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Total Film

April 2003

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Director Ray Lawrence
Starring Anthony LaPaglia, Rachael Blake, Barbara Hershey
Cert 15

Film ****     Extras **

Like the strangling vine that gives this dark Australian drama its name, Lantana crept stealthily into UK cinemas last summer to become an unexpected arthouse hit.

It’s hung loosely on the mystery of a prominent psychiatrist’s disappearance (Barbara Hershey) and probes themes of love, trust and betrayal. The result is a resonant mosaic of four Sydney couples and sundry satellite characters, whose lives overlap and criss-cross through fate, freakish coincidence and clever plotting. Packed with edgy, naturalistic performances, from Anthony LaPaglia’s philandering investigator to Geoffrey Rush’s disillusioned spouse, Lantana is adult with a capital A, threatening to out-Altman Robert Altman in the breadth and depth of its tangled connections.

A decidedly ordinary bunch. Comes with the standard bios and trailers, while the joint commentary, featuring director Ray Lawrence, producer Jan Chapman and writer Andrew Bovell, is all production detail and no spark. Worse, the Making Of’s compilation of cast interviews and background info is smothered by an irritatingly Muzak-ish guitar track.

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