Well, here’s a plot structure that I didn’t think would be so prevalent on the list, but in hindsight seems to be a ready-made formula for a list film; that of a large ensemble cast of characters, each with their own individual stories, loosely connected and intertwined around a common theme or location. We’ve had Nashville, Magnolia, Short Cuts, even Crash, and now Australia gives us Lantana, which for some reason seemed to be even more of a superfluous entry than the others. I’m pretty sure I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have to do with me seeing this after all the other like list films, so I guess I should look at this one a little more fairly; it’s a very well done film, but there’s no real reason to make a point of seeing this one.
What “lantana” is is a weed, which is apparently quite prevalent in the coastal areas of Australia, with flowers on top, and a thick brush of thorns underneath; the metaphor for interpersonal relationships being quite obvious. Where Lantana does differ from the other ensemble offerings on the list is that there is actually more of a plot to this one; instead of focusing on a theme or location, the tangled web of narrative strings that make up Lantana instead revolve around a plot device, that of a woman’s body found in a lantana bush. All the characters have something to do with the woman, or are otherwise tangentially related to the people who are involved, and we run through who these people are (including the woman), how she ended up dead, and what the characters do in response. So, how does the plot of this one fare up? It was interesting, but admittedly in an “I’m pretty much just getting through this film regardless” kind of way. It’s basically like I said in the opener; this is good, and very well done in every regard, but there’s nothing “must see” about this. The acting was good, the cinematography was good, the script was good; really, the only notable thing I could point out is the score, which was very muted and serene, in much the same way as the poster up there.
At the Australian equivalent of the Oscars, this film managed to do what no film has ever managed at the Academy Awards; not only did it win the Big 5, it also won for all 4 acting categories. Now, is this film seriously worth that level of praise, being regarded as one of the greatest films to ever come out of the Australian continent? No, it really isn’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I can see why this was eventually removed from the list, but it does make me wonder how it got on there to begin with; the other films of its kind and narrative structure are either better or more notable, regardless of whether or not they’re American. Still, I can’t really fault this one; it’s really not a bad film, it’s just one I’m almost certain everyone has seen before in other packaging.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10