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November 26, 2008 > Movie Review: Australia

Movie Review: Australia

By Susana Nunez

Rated PG-13
Running time: 165 minutes

From the man who gave audiences Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Romeo + Juliet (1996) comes his biggest film yet, the epic Australia. The film, which took about three years to produce, was well worth the wait, as co-stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman were at their best. Kidman seems to have become director Baz Luhrmann's muse as she starred in his aforementioned hit Moulin Rouge! and the director's short film ad for Chanel No. 5 (the most expensive advertisement ever produced). Once again, Luhrmann makes Kidman shine beautifully as we see her go from a prim and proper English aristocrat to roughing it in the desert with Jackman.

Luhrmann's a gifted storyteller and Kidman's character isn't the only one audiences will see evolve. An Australian native himself, Luhrmann cast an all-Aussie group of talented actors that helped create the authenticity evoked in the film. Of course, big names like Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will draw audiences to theaters, but the real scene-stealer is a clever and loveable little boy of about 11, newcomer Brandon Walters.

The story is narrated by Nullah (Brandon Walters), an aboriginal boy who's constantly being harassed for being a "creamy," or half white/ half black aboriginal. His situation illustrates the prevalent racism of the time, as black aboriginals were forced to work as servants for whites, suffering much of the same racism as African Americans did in the U.S. Lady Sara Ashley (Kidman) meets Nullah on her trip down under to visit the land she and her husband own and soon enough she grows fond of the boy. However, after she finds out that a local rival plans on taking over her property she cancels her plans to return to England. With the help of Drover (Jackman), Ashley stays to fight for what's rightfully hers and defend Nullah from the racist powers that be.

With a running time of 165 minutes, the film allows one enough time to get to know the characters well, and although it may sound excessive, it definitely does not feel that way; every event serves a purpose, and the film manages to remain entertaining. Set on the brink of WWII, it takes viewers on a tour of Australia's larger-than-life landscape, only to see it fall to pieces when the war inevitably reaches their shores. The gorgeous cinematography will keep audiences involved if the story alone doesn't, but the excellent performances will undoubtedly keep viewers intrigued throughout.

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