Gillian Armstrong's debut full length feature is a quite remarkable that made a major ripple on release and helped open up Australian cinema for international consumption. Judy Davis shot to stardom with her portrayal of a young woman at the turn of the century in rural Australia wanting to achieve independence and not be constrained by society's expectations of marriage and wifedom.
It's a movie I really wanted to like, with brilliant acting from Judy Davis and a story of will and independence in a repressive environment. But unlike the 'you've come a long way, baby' feminism of the late 1970s, the plot now seems airless and the action oddly detached for a movie that wants to be fiery. Way less brilliant and more stilted than what I envisioned, with too high a dose of melodrama.
I love how the soundscape of this film is atmosphere, memory, the sound of thought, writing, social pressure, solitude. Swarming, metallic drone of of all kinds of life, as directed by Gillian Anderson, and acted with quick, simmering force by Judy Davis.
Thoroughly enjoyable, very consistent film about a young woman and her struggles with the world she lives in as well as with herself. You don't have to live in the Australian bush to relate to this strong lady. Sam Neill looks creepy as usual.
Excellent period piece with defining performance by Davis. This film feels like Days of Heaven and Picnic at Hanging Rock had a baby. A real dreamlike quality to the whole film, like the latter, mixed with the farm and rustic nature of the former. Just a great movie, one that probably needs multiple viewings to get the most out of it. Solid 4 stars, replay value probably higher.