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.
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.