Culture: Film

The Eye Of The Storm

The Eye Of The Storm

It has taken nearly two years for this Australian drama, directed by Fred Schepisi, and based on the 1973 novel by gay novelist Patrick White to hit our shores.

This is pure melodrama, dealing with death, emotions, love (both requited and unrequited) and sibling rivalry. Fred Schepisi’s first film in eight years looks gorgeous with beautiful framing, picturesque cinematography and slick editing. It is class in every sense of the word and the lead performances are exquisite.

The plot centres around Elizabeth Hunter. Once an important member of the social scene, she is now on her death bed, but still manages to rule her house with an iron claw, even as she slips in and out of dementia.

She calls for her two children to attend her – Sir Basil Hunter, a West End “luvvie” of the highest order and Dorothy de Lascabanes, a Princess living in France. As the pair return to her Elizabeth’s bedside, to the annoyance of the household that have kept Elizabeth during her dying days, the balance of power between them all starts to shift as secrets are revealed.

Charlotte Rampling plays the dying Elizabeth and still looks as graceful as ever, even under aging makeup and sometimes somewhat ludicrous wigs. She quietly delivers a powerful performance. Geoffrey Rush is allowed the opportunity to ‘ham’ things up as the extravagant, womanising Sir Basil, full of tales from the stage that he uses to entice younger women into bed, even if he does then struggle to perform.

The film’s finest work, however, belongs to Judy Davis, as the sexually repressed Princess. With her subtle characteristics and subdued attitude, it is a lovely, well meaning performance and proof what a terrific actress Davis is.

With all this positivity, you would think this is a film well worth checking out. If performances are your thing, then it’s a must see. However, while the film delivers in the acting arena, it falls down in story. Meandering in places, it is littered with characters that are thinly sketched and offer nothing more than people for the leads to bounce off.

The film loses its way completely by the final act, mixing tone and offering some surreal, unexpected moments that don’t add up from everything else that has happened. It’s as if they have these very diverse and interesting characters but don’t know what to do with them or how to find an ending with any real meaning. It’s a shame because The Eye Of The Storm is a lovely looking film with great performances, but ultimately it has very little to say and nowhere to go.

The Eye Of The Storm is on general release now.

Words: Stuart Wren

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