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(Review originally written at 21 May 2007)

You can call "Lantana" a lot of things but unique would be the best word to describe this movie. The movie is not necessarily unique with its characters, storyline and such but it certainly is unique in its approach, in which it focuses on the character's relationships, rather than on the 'muder-mystery'. The end result is a well balanced movie, with a bit of 'everything' in it.

This Australian movie feels more 'Europe-like' than 'Hollywood-like', which is refreshing. So that means that the movie is build-up and moves slowly and isn't afraid to show life as it is.

Perhaps build-up a bit too slow. The first halve of the movie is definitely its lesser part. The movie becomes a bit of a drag at points, especially because it isn't always clear were the movie is heading to, which is good for the genre but it also makes the movie too slow and at times boring in this case. In its first halve the movie is also hanging together from its coincidences when basically every character in the movie meets the other at some point, without having always a clear purpose story-wise. It seems totally redundant and it feels like the film-makers were trying too desperately to 'cleverly' connect all the story-lines and characters. A bit too unlikely all to consider this movie 'realistic' or fully credible.

However the second halve of the movie surely compensates enough and the movie becomes mostly intriguing to watch. The movie is multiple layered and constructed, mainly due to the many characters that are in it. This approach works out best- and pays off in the second halve.

The approach of the movie also works out due to the fine actors that are in the movie and some well written dialog. Anthony LaPaglia is slow and boring, in others words perfect for the main character in this movie. Geoffrey Rush gets surprisingly limited down in his role, when it comes down to screen time but this really fits the character and it says a lot about the quality of the movie that it has got Geoffrey Rush in a small supporting role. He is such a great actor.

However rating this movie with a mark higher than 7 would be giving the movie too much credit. That rating would indicate that this movie is great and near perfect and among the best movies of the past few years. That really isn't the case, since its weaker first halve and other more smaller imperfect elements.

Worth seeing if you want to see a mystery movie with a different and more dramatic approach.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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