Overall Grade: (D-)
A film that was as dull as the lives led by the characters with a story-line that went nowhere.
A family in rural Australia finds their ordinary life turned upside down when their two children turn up missing and as days pass deeply rooted flaws in their marriage begin to show themselves.
Glancing at the cast of this one and the short plot description most would be assured that as you sat down you would be about to watch a compelling piece of cinematic work. Then after an excruciatingly long two-hours you will most likely sit back like I did and think – “what, was the point of all that?”
When a project has the likes of Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes, desolate Australian locations that can lure the viewer into the setting, the result should not be a shockingly a boring story. There was a decent build-up in the first-act as you are given a rather brief description of the family dynamic. As Usual key things left out to try and grab your attention throughout with cryptic dialogue that will inevitably complete the backdrop of why this family was the way the were, although it was too late when it finally did fill in the last of the puzzle pieces.
Early on it gives the impression of a moody drama with a hint of suspense, but as it progresses the script seems to drag its feet heavily until the end credits roll, freeing you from the depressing tone, and pointless plot. The energy in this film was missing from the story and the cast despite none bringing any hindering performances. The overall feel of the entire thing just felt flat and lifeless, and far from compelling.
Nicole Kidman’s performance was solid and she was enjoyable in her delivery but like that of Hugo Weaving, it was all for nothing as they were unable to inflate life into this drab script. Joseph Fiennes was all he could be for what the material was he had to work with, his character felt like a fly swarming over a peach on the counter, with the script having his motivation all in disarray.
When I sat down I was thinking the film would wind up being a tense dramatic-thriller about two people looking for their kids, but that almost seemed like a sub-plot to a couple of self-absorbed adults who seem more engrossed in their relationship than the whereabouts of their children.
Sure I get the tag-line, ‘to find the truth they must lose themselves’ and I can see where that vibe may have been given, although in uninteresting style. But it still didn’t come across as realistic of two people with missing kids and thus un-relatable building zero connection to the characters.
In the end “Strangerland” was a lifeless film with a story that crawled every minute of the way. The talented cast, great visual locations and a decent premise were ruined by a script that lost focus way too early on. Even if you usually love movies from Kidman, Weaving or Fiennes this one will be an extremely disappointing.