Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Variety Reviews "Australia"

Flop of the year? Maybe not:
Embracing grand old-school melodrama while critiquing racist old-fashioned politics, Baz Luhrmann's grandiose "Australia" provides a luxurious bumpy ride; like a Rolls-Royce on a rocky country road, it's full of bounces and lurches, but you can't really complain about the seat. Deliberately anachronistic in its heightened style of romance, villainy and destiny, the epic lays an Aussie accent on colorful motifs drawn from Hollywood Westerns, war films, love stories and socially conscious dramas. Some of it plays, some doesn't, and it is long. But the beauty of the film's stars and landscapes, the appeal of the central young boy and, perhaps more than anything, the filmmaker's eagerness to please tend to prevail, making for a film general audiences should go with, even if they're not swept away. Robust, but not boffo, box office looks in store.
I stand by my prediction that Australia will be a significant flop, since big Nicole Kidman epics - post-Moulin Rouge - don't seem to do well (The Golden Compass, anyone?). For all her acting talents and celebrity star power, she is not a big box office draw. She's not. Even when she was winning an Oscar and serving as the It Girl of the Moment a few years ago, she was hardly what you could call automatic box office gold. Maybe Australia will change all that. Who knows? It very well might - but I won't bet on it.

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