Top positive review
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the great shadow play
on 28 June 2005
"The Year of Living Dangerously" is a film that is felt as well as seen; the steaming heat and stench of the hovel lined streets, the torrential rains, and the confusion and fear of being in the middle of a revolutionary coup become very real on a sensory level. Taking place during the Sukarno regime in 1965 Indonesia, it is also a marvelous love story, and the chemistry between Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson is palpable. There are many scenes that are as if we are glimpsing a private, intimate moment, and they are both such a stunningly attractive pair.
Linda Hunt, playing a cross-gender role of a Chinese/Indonesian news photographer, won many Best Supporting Actress awards, among them the Oscar, for her superb performance as Billy. Billy sets the stage for the characters in this political thriller, using the people around him in the same way that he guides the intricate shadow puppets he is so fond of. When Guy Hamilton (Gibson) gets transferred to Jakarta as a reporter for an Australian newspaper, Billy shows him the ropes, making sure he meets beautiful British embassy attaché Jill (Weaver), knowing that love between them will be inevitable.
A brilliant re-teaming of Gibson, director Peter Weir, and cinematographer Russell Boyd, from the 1981 masterpiece "Gallipoli", this is an equally extraordinary film in its own way, and both films are works of art that get better with each viewing. Unfortunately, the recent releases of this film, whether on VHS or DVD, are of inferior quality, and do not have the clarity or color reproduction of an old VHS I used to own. Nevertheless, even a less than perfect transfer is better than nothing, and still worth owning.
Filmed in the Philippines and Australia, it has an atmospheric score by Maurice Jarre, which includes an excerpt from Vangelis' "Opera Sauvage". Total running time is 115 minutes.