Top positive review
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Engrossing, superbly acted but slow adult drama
on 11 June 2004
Silly me. Watching this film I thought Lantana was some sort of exotic dance but apparently it's a thorny shrub and this film opens with a women's unidentified body lying in amongst this shrub. The shrub is also a metaphor for the entangled lives on display. As the plot unfolds we gradually learn her identity through the intertwining lives of several people, most of them couples undergoing various levels of relationship strife.
Adapted from a stage play "Speaking in Tongues" it occasionally reveals its source through a series of low key scenes that rely on talking heads but is no less engrossing for that. It's almost soap opera mixed with the labyrinthine narrative of "Pulp Fiction" or "Go".
These are ordinary lives and at times what is happening can seem a little banal but every scene leads us inexorably on to revealing the identity of the unfortunate murder victim and the performances are so good that you should be gripped anyway. Lapaglia as the hangdog cop Leon is superb. Rush gives an understated performance as the husband of Valerie, the ever excellent Barbara Hershey. However the real star is Kerry Armstrong as Valerie, Leons wife in who's face constantly and believably radiates all the frustrations, betrayals and tiny hurts everyday life can bring.
The movies somnolent pace can become a tad wearisome at times but it's worth paying close attention as that's where the real pleasure in watching this film is to be derived and it rewards that attention handsomely.