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LANTANA

Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake

Directed by: Ray Lawrence
Written by: Andrew Bovell
Produced by: Jan Chapman

US: 00/00/02 UK: 16/08/02

Grief-stricken over the murder of her daughter, Valerie Somers (Barbara Hershey) suspects that her husband John (Geoffrey Rush) is cheating on her. When Valerie disappears, Detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) attempts to solve the mystery of her absence.



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MEDIA BUZZ

"Anthony La Pagia and Barbara Hershey reflect on life's strange turns "

This breathtakingly detailed and sensitive drama deserves much more distribution than it's getting, especially as it features a few top stars. Not to mention that it won most of the 2001 Australian Film Institute Awards (including best picture, director, screenplay and all of the acting awards). At the centre of the interlaced plot is Detective Leon Zat (LaPaglia), a nice guy who's having a fling with the recently separated Jane (Blake), even though he still loves his wife Sonja (Armstrong). But Sonja suspects something and is seeing a therapist, Valerie (Hershey), who is having problems with her husband (Rush), mostly due to the sudden death of their daughter, but also since another patient (Phelps) stirs deep suspicions. Meanwhile, Jane's happily married neighbours (Colosimo and Farinacci) are driving her nuts ... and stirring more suspicions.

As the story starts turning in on itself--over and over again--we are struck by the inter-connectedness of the people in this Sydney suburb, as well as numerous parallels between the characters. And as it deepens the filmmakers astutely examine various stages of relationships, brought quietly and powerfully to life by a staggeringly good cast in roles that are among the best-written in recent memory. They peel back the layers until we're afraid to watch anymore ... then they breathe fresh air into everything and just keep going. There is so much to this film--both plot-wise and within each character. It's thoroughly gripping as it weaves together various mystery plot-threads along with intimate examinations of how tiny distances in relationships grow into huge gulfs ... or not. Yes, this is complex, exceptional filmmaking with a real kick.


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