The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Eye of the Storm | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - The Eye of the Storm

Two siblings reluctantly return to Australia to be with their dying mother.

Directed by: Fred Schepisi
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Maria Theodorakis, Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis

Rich matriarch Elizabeth (Rampling) finds herself living out her final days in the hands of two nurses and a devoted Jewish cook. Sniffing out their impending inheritance, her two children, Basil (Rush) and Dorothy (Davis), return from Europe for a final reconciliation. Basil is a fading star of the London stage while Dorothy is struggling to maintain a lavish Parisian lifestyle following her divorce from a European Prince. Both have a tense relationship with their mother and have shown her little attention previously, something the dying woman is all too happy to remind them of.
I've often sung the praises of Australian cinema but along comes Fred Schepisi's adaptation of a popular Aussie novel to leave me with platypus egg on my face. Schepisi was part of the Australian New Wave, a collective of film-makers from the country (and New Zealand) who emerged in the seventies with a series of landmark films like Peter Weir's 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', Ted Kotcheff's 'Wake in Fright', and Schepisi's own 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith'. Like the Australian outback, they were beautiful and challenging, often thinly hiding a deep-rooted colonial guilt. In the eighties, the various members of this movement left for the U.S, with mixed results. Schepisi, 'A Cry in the Dark' excluded, found himself lost in the fog of Hollywood mediocrity, helming comedies like 'Mr Baseball' and 'Roxanne'. Now he's returned to his homeland but, sadly, it's a return as bland as any of his American paycheck films.
Schepisi's direction is impressive, clearly influenced by Robert Altman, and the trio of lead performances are terrific, as you'd expect from such actors. The problem lies with the script, as bland and uninvolving a piece of drivel as you could hope to find. Australian readers won't like me saying this but 'TEOTS' feels very much like a British film, the sort that features lots of characters sipping tea and saying "bugger" for comic effect. Come on Oz, I know you can do better. Last year you thrilled us with 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'The Hunter'. This year you've started by putting us to sleep with tea and mediocrity.
5/10