The world is at war, Japan threatens to strike against Australia and racism is rife. Lady Sarah Ashley, (Kidman), the overly proper housewife, travels to Faraway Downs to visit her husband’s cattle ranch with the aim to sell it to rival company, King Carney’s Cattle. Finding her husband murdered, the rugged Drover (Jackman) is convinced by Lady Ashley to cross country to honour a contract with the army. Love blossoms, racism is directed at the mixed-race aborigine children and we see the eventual attack on Australia. Divulging any further details would void your enjoyment in the film, but you will not be disappointed. It’s well written, well acted and has a coherent narrative structure, even if it is a tad long winded.
From a technical standpoint Australia is a visual masterpiece. Wide panoramic shots delight as the audience is treated to a breathtaking landscape. The score is on an equal-quality footing – orchestral pieces compliment the beauty of scenery. There’s an intrinsic sense of scale expressed in Australia which mirrors the human conflict shown. Rich colour, impressive special effects and period dress combine to produce an aesthetically pleasing film.
Acting wise, Australia really delivers. The chemistry between Kidman and Jackman is passionate, making it a delight to watch. Brandon Walters plays Nullah, the young Aboriginal boy to an adult standard. He’s charismatic, charming and cute – it’s a mature performance that he can be proud of. (David Wenham), Neil Fletcher is callous, brooding and a competent villain. Overall the casting is well throughout and it results in an enjoyable film.
It’s not all good. The film’s length results in viewer fatigue and there are characters which lack substantial development. The conclusion is expected and the twists are well signposted. It is difficult to feel involved when watching Australia – there’s definitely a distinct sense of detraction. A better conclusion would have resulted in a more satisfying experience, rather than one to quell consumer expectation. Cutting thirty minutes would have resulted in a sharper film and a better score. Still, there’s magic in the land down under and it’s worth losing yourself in it.