If you're planning on seeing this movie with someone you hope to marry one day, skip it -- "Lantana" will have you both fleeing in wide-eyed terror back to the single life faster than you can say "dowry refund." Director Ray Lawrence's portrait of the doldrums of midlife marriages is uncanny in its ability to focus on relationships that are bad enough to be dully uncomfortable, but not quite bad enough to entail any real entertainment value, such as the flinging of pointy utensils. If you're in the mood for two straight hours of dissecting failed relationships like so much lukewarm roadkill, this is the movie for you.
Detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) is dragged to salsa lessons by his wife, Sonja (Kerry Armstrong) where he consistently wins the "limpest lambada" award. He kills some time with an affair with a recently separated dance classmate, Jane (Rachael Blake), and spends the balance of his day busily stewing in midlife angst. His unhappy wife is a patient of noted psychiatrist Valerie Somers (Barbara Hershey), whose unhappy marriage to sallow, unhappy academic John Knox (Geoffrey Rush) has never recovered from the death of their daughter. Meanwhile, Jane's neighbors, Nik (Vince Colosimo) and Paula (Daniella Farinacci), struggle with a kids-to-jobs ratio of three-to-one.
Ready? Set? Fail each other! In addition to their common ability to disappoint, these characters are also brought together by the fact that Sydney, for all its charms, apparently only claims a population of 20. The characters experience more implausible chance meetings than Kenneth Lay on a White House tour.
This is all viewed through a gauze of relationship-manual preachiness so thick it's about as subtle as a having Oprah sit on your face. Throughout, the characters gag up their emotion-sodden lines with such painful, halting effort they sound like they're regurgitating hairballs. By the time a murder investigation has taken center stage, the movie might as well be titled "You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead." Lord knows it killed my evening.
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