Thursday, September 10, 2009

Celebrate these new Australian films!

Blessed opened today around Australia and I rushed to see it because two members of its ensemble cast are simply my favorite female actors alive today: Frances O'Connor and Miranda Otto.

It's become quite fashionable in critical circles to denigrate Australian films of the last few years for being too dark and depressing and decidedly noncommercial. They've become too consciously indie and worthy, luxuriating in being labelled 'gritty'.

There's truth to that, but there's also untruth. See Balibo, Beautiful Kate and Blessed for fine recent examples of excellent local productions that are powerful and emotionally wrenching and worth all the investment that time, money and talent can make in them.

Blessed is simply amazingly good. See it for Frances O'Connor's performance alone. It's not a large role, but it's stunningly raw and harrowing. You don't so much see this film as subject yourself to it, but it's worth every bit of uncomfortableness you'll feel. I simply bawled at the end for at least five minutes. Thank god the credits kept the lights off!

It's directed and co-written by Ana Kokkinos, who wrote the superb Lantana. One of the other co-writers was Christos Tsiolkas, he of Slap fame, that extraordinary novel of modern Australian working class life, which I enthused over in this blog.

There've been plenty of wonderful Australian films released this year. Don't believe all you read.

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