The Australian-Irish suspense drama “Strangerland” is overall a good one from debutant director Kim Farrant but somehow lacks thrill. Nicole Kidman, as an anguished mother, distressed over the disappearance of her two children in an Australian desert town, has yet again delivered a surprisingly beautiful performance.
“Strangerland” is very uneasy in the story when you get introduced to Matthew Parker (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Catherine (Nicole Kidman) who is struggling in his marital life. At first, you do not get any clue about the characters in this laidback town with teens almost doing nothing but passing time with their skateboards or indulging in smoking.
Then you get to know their 15-year-old daughter, Lily (Maddison Brown), and their younger son, Tom (Nicholas Hamilton) trying to befriend the locals as they have just moved to this new place. It takes only a few minutes to notice that the family is still struggling with something strange in their past. Matthew who works as a pharmacist in a local shop seems to have not interacted much with the kids and Catherine in an odd way behaves as a sex-obsessive woman.
Watch the movie trailer – “Strangerland”
As one night Matthew and Catherine argue to further their fraying relationship, and both Lily and Tom sneak out of the house right before a huge dust storm. The parents only come to know about this in the morning and start searching for the kids by taking the help of the police. Catherine learns from the school that her kids are not attending the school for quite some time which further makes it complex to understand the whole thing behind this.
The situation becomes critical with many possibilities as everyone starts fearing for the safety of the children. Their disappearance also came into question as no one is sure whether they left their home with the intention to leave forever, someone kidnapped the children after they left home, or they simply are lost in the desert.
While detective Rae (Hugo Weaving) tries to find any clue that can lead him to the missing children, the behavioral changes both in Matthew and Catherine come to the fore. Matthew’s disinterest in his wife’s sexual yearning and his aggression toward those men who he thinks may have been involved in the disappearance of his children, direct to something even worse behind the whole story.
No doubt, Nicole Kidman yet again shines in a very weird psychological makeup but “Strangerland” with too many subplots and no further explanation lacks thrill. There are multiple territories the director wanted us to dive into that include culture, white colonialism, class conflict, and indigenous Australian traditions, but in the end, it was a little flat barring the performance.
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Drama
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Maddison Brown, Meyne Wyatt, Nicholas Hamilton, Lisa Flanagan
Directed by Kim Farrant
Written by Michael Kinironsand Fiona Seres
Cinematography P.J. Dillon
Release Date/Year: January 23, 2015 (Sundance Film Festival)