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In theaters

The Parker family has just moved to a small Australian desert town. They moved in quite a rush (more on that later) and from the first 15 minutes of the movie, you gather we have the makings of a dysfunctional family. There’s a sexually active teen daughter, a withdrawn mother, an irritated father focused on work, and the ignored younger brother. With the amount of tension and anger this family possesses, it would take something big to wake them from their stupor.
A number of odd things happen following the initial introduction. The two children go missing in the night. The father watches them leave, but for some reason does not stop them. The film attempts to lead viewers into believing everyone-and-their-mother are involved. It is unclear why they left, who they were going to see, or what happened out there in the desert – which much of the town predicted they would not survive in. When the father happens upon his son after a few days, I was left with more questions than I could keep track of.
With the intense music, wide angled shots of the desert and questionable mythic energy surrounding the plot, I found this film to be completely predictable but not without an intriguing tone. The majority of the movie reads like a washed up Lifetime original movie script…utterly unsurprising. However, there were moments when I had no idea where the filmmakers were going with the storyline.
Let me save you some time and give you the key suspects. Most were alluded to have been involved at one point or another, my guess is that one of them was but this film has no intention of giving you a resounding answer, so insert the somewhat generic key players. They all have names but because they are so painfully cliché in their roles, a title should be sufficient in your visualizing.
Skater Boy (Bad boy)- Random older boy Lily hooked up with in the beginning. Not much is known about him other than the fact that his father got defensive when the police questioned his son.
House Cleaner (Bertie)- Appears to have some sort of social disability. Clearly comes from a poorer background.
House Cleaner’s Grandma- (Has a mythic aura of knowledge. Alludes to magic)- Not thought to be involved per say, but might know something. Somehow pops up everywhere and briefly mentions that kids go missing in this town quite regularly (no one expands on this).
Dad- Angry throughout 75% of this film. Accused of sexually molesting his daughter based on the fact that she acted out sexually.
Old Teacher Fling- The Parkers quickly moved from their old town because Lily had been having a sexual relationship with her teacher (or in other words, was raped) and her parents did not want her name dragged through the mud. It was later thought that he had kidnapped her.
Meanwhile Catherine (Kidman) is losing her mind, which is understandable, and she is acting out her daughter’s sexual desires…which is not so understandable. This coupled with the impending dust storm makes for an unknown source of confusion and anxiety as the story progresses and so few clues develop.
Overall, this was a movie to watch on a rainy day. Preferably when it is free. Kidman was manic and her husband was frustratingly distant and suspiciously calm at times, irate and over the top at other times. I wasn’t underwhelmed by the acting, instead by the plot itself. If the town was not so clouded in secret, maybe one of the mysteries would have been solved.
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Review: Strangerland
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Movie Review: Strangerland
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Strangerland, Movie Review
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