Newest Reviews:

New Movies -  

The Tunnel


The Tall Man

Mama Africa





Brownian Movement

Last Ride

[Rec]³: Genesis

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Indie Game: The Movie

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Old Movies -

Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena

Drums Along the Mohawk

The Chase

The Heiress

Show People

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry



Miracle Mile

The Great Flamarion

Dark Habits

Archives -

Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012

All reviews alphabetically

All reviews by star rating

All reviews by release year


Screening Log



E-mail me




Lantana (Ray Lawrence) 2001 

Now here’s a fun movie gone slightly wrong… Since Ray Lawrence’s Lantana starts out by showing a close-up of a Lantana bush (which appears to have flowers, but has thorns underneath), and then the camera pulls back to show an unidentified body that has been unceremoniously tossed there, it seems as if we’re about to launch into a great whodunit that exposes the hidden underbelly of the world it inhabits. The film keeps up that charade for a while, as it begins introducing us to a huge cast of people with conflicting personalities and interesting problems, but as Geoffrey Rush’s character states near the end of the film, “Don’t let looks deceive you.” It’s interesting that Lantana spends so much time setting up a Lynchian metaphor saying the world it’s set in is one of hidden crime and deceit since, by the end of the film, it’s telling us that we’re all not as bad as we thought we were. While that’s a nice enough sentiment, it feels like a bit of a cheat that all of our speculation was really for nothing, and we feel bad for having put up with the many coincidences that the film offers up. 

The disappointment that surrounds the film’s strongest narrative element doesn’t do a lot to sink the rest of the ship, however. The film is packed with a muted sense of intrigue, and it’s always trying to link the characters in its ensemble, hoping we’ll take its bait, and start making unfounded assumptions. There are several scenes that feel like a repeat or continuation of the scene that we just watched with a differing set of participants. It’s an enjoyable sport that the screenplay plays with us, especially since the film’s so well acted and the dialogue’s so sharp. Out of the uniformly solid cast, the absolute standouts are Rachel Blake, Anthony LaPaglia, and Barbara Hershey. The actors are able to have a field day since their characters are all endowed with a rare perceptiveness. Almost every character has a moment or two in which they see right through a situation to a crystallizing truth. These moments are always gratifying since they reward the audience’s attention without condescending toward the cast. The film’s general ennui always lulls us into a state that leaves the audience open to be surprised when it slides back revealing the vibrant lives of these characters. Lantana is definitely a film that works better on a moment to moment basis than it does as a complete package. Still, most of the film’s individual moments do work, and for those that can ignore the majority of the film’s plot it should be riveting. 



Jeremy Heilman