Australia is about Beef. Suprising eh? You think you know a lot about movies, buy your ticket for a classic melodrama by a well-known, romantically enclined director, you settle down with your popcorn and bam! Beef. Lots of Beef. But then I suppose, really, when you think about it, its probably not just about beef. It probably is a classic melodrama about romance and what it means to be an Aussie. The thing is stepping out of Australia I instantly forgot almost everything that had just happened. So all I have to go on is my notes. And they say, in quite big letters, BEEF.
Nicole Kidman is Lady Sarah Ashley, a prissy Brit, who goes to Oz to sort out her philandering husband and get him to sell his cattle ranch. When hubbie gets done-in by an aborigine she sees the beauty of Austarlia and teams up with Drover (Hugh Jackman), a dundee of crocodile proportions. They drive the cows across the convict land with the odds stacked against them. But with the help of a little 'half-cast' Nullah (who also acts as our narrator) the two succeed in their mission (selling Beef), fall in love and live happily ever after. Then some more stuff happens. Before happy ending number 2.
This double happy ending is really the films biggest downfall. Having everything the way it should be at the mid-point gives you absolutely no emotional impact when stuff goes wrong and needs to be corrected. It gives you the same ending you had halfway through. And with melodrama and big sweeping epics, emotional impact is key. There may never be anything unpredictable about any of Baz's films (for they are essentially 'big romance/boo hiss villain' movies) but the epicness can't be faulted. You won't find a more grandiose movie in all of the reviews on this site.
Spanning several years, some huge set-pieces (including Oz's own Pearl Harbour) and enough location chewing shots to make Peter Jackson blush, Australia really is epic. Kudos to Kidman for breaking her 'lame duck' period with a well crafted perormance but if anything is remembered from this film its Wolverine. When he arrived clean shaven for the first time the entire female audience inhaled and in doing so almost sucked the room dry. If that's not the effect a leading man should have then I don't know nothing bout nothing. While Australia may not clean up at the Oscars next year the host should be around for a long, long time.