Lantana
By Dianne Caruso

Film Information

Director: Ray Lawrence

Scriptwriter: Andrew Bovell (adapted from his play: Speaking in Tongues)

Cinematographer: Mandy Walker

Producer: Jan Chapman

Production Companies:
* Beyond Films
* Jan Chapman Productions
* MBP (Germany)
* New South Wales Film & Television Office
* The Australian Film Finance Corporation

Lead Actors:
Anthony Lapaglia as Leon Zat
Geoffrey Rush as John Knox
Barbara Hershey as Valerie Somers
Kerry Armstrong as Sonja Zat
Rachael Blake as Jane O'May
Vince Colosimo as Nik Daniels
Russell Dykstra as Michael
Daniella Farinacci as Paula Daniels
Peter Phelps as Patrick Phelan
Leah Purcell as Claudia
Glenn Robbins as Pete O'May

Release Dates: Australia: October 4th 2001
DVD and Video: 21st May 2002
LA and New York: December 14th 2001
UK general date: August 16th 2002

Box Office Figures: AUS $9,883,101.
USA $4,277,569.

Bibliographical details of Interviews:
* Recorded interview with director Ray Lawrence (SBS Home, The Movie Show), www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/interviews.php3?id=65
* Special features on Lantana DVD include:
- Audio Commentary of the film with director Ray Lawrence, producer Jan Chapman and writer Andrew Bovell
- Biographies with director Ray Lawrence, producer Jan Chapman, writer Andrew Bovell, Cast members:
* Leon - Anthony Lapaglia
* John - Geoffrey Rush
* Valerie - Barbara Hershey
* Sonja - Kerry Armstrong
* Jane - Rachael Blake
* Pete - Glenn Robbins
* Nik - Vince Colosimo
* Paula - Daniella Farinacci
* Claudia - Leah Purcell
* Patrick - Peter Phelps
* Recorded interview with writer Andrew Bovell (ABC Online, Artery Stories) http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/arts/archive/artery_2002_May2002.htm
* Written interview with Anthony Lapaglia (BBC i-Films Interviews), http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2002/08/02/anthony_lapaglia_lantana_interview.shtml
* Recorded interview with Andrew Bovell (720 ABC Perth), http://www.abc.net.au/perth/stories/s782533.htm

Reviews in: Newspapers, Critical Essays, Journals and Books
* The Hollywood Reporter, Review written by Erin Fee, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1028721
* SBS TV, The Movie Show, (Wednesday 8pm) Margaret Pomeranz, http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=766
* ABC Online, Triple J, Arts and Culture, http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/arts/archive/artery_2002_May2002.htm
* BBC Films, Interviews, http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2002/08/02/anthony_lapaglia_lantana_interview.shtml
* 720 ABC Perth, http://www.abc.net.au/perth/stories/s782533.htm
* SMH Articles, Andrew Bovell, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/05/1022982722740.html
* Yearbook Australia Special Article, http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/c83ebe935009d14cca2569de0025c18a?OpenDocument]
* New York Times A.O. Scott, http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/lantana/
Lantana's on-line Presence in Web Literature
* 720 ABC Perth, http://www.abc.net.au/perth/stories/s782533.htm (accessed 27/4/2004)

* All Movie Guide: Lantana http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll, (accesses 28/4/2004)

* Artery Stories Arts and Culture: The Pulse of Triple J http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/arts/archive/artery_2002_May2002.htm (accesses 26/4/2004)

* BBC Films, Anthony Lapaglia Interview: Lantana http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2002/08/02/anthony_lapaglia_lantana_interview.shtml

* Bulletin Ed Desk Article, http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/bulletin/EdDesk.nsf/0/aeb19e880e65ccefca256b0500134554?OpenDocument (accessed 27/4/2004)

* Cranky Critic.Com: Lantana, http://www.crankycritic.com/archive01/lantana.html (accessed 25/4/2004)

* Hollywood.Com: Lantana 2001 http://www.hollywood.com/movies/detail/movie/416112 (accessed 27/4/2004)

* The Hollywood Reporter.Com, Lantana: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1028721 (accessed 30/4/2004)

* Internet Sites: Media Studies, Communication Studies and Mass Communications http://wwwlib.murdoch.edu.au/internet/sshe/comm.html (accessed 24/4/2004)

* Lantana Homepage, http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm, (accessed 29/4/2004)

* Metacritic; DVD and Video: Lantana http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/lantana/ (accessed 28/4/2004)

* The Movie Show: Reviews http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=766 (accessed 27/4/2004)

* Rotten Tomatoes 2001: Lantana http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/Lantana-1111228/reviews.php?sortby=date&critic=columns (accessed 29/4/2004)

* Senses of Cinema: Interview with Mandy Walker, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/02/23/walker.html, (accessed 28/4/2004)

* SMH, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/05/1022982722740.html (accessed 28/4/2004)

Stage to Screen: Speaking with Andrew Bovell, http://www.playbill.com/features/article/66672.html (accessed 26/4/2004)

Urban Cinefile: Andrew Bovell, Lantana http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=5333&s=Interviews (accessed 28/4/2004)

Yahoo Movies: Lantana 2001 http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hv&cf=info&id=1807479798 (accessed 27/4/2004)

Yearbook Australia Special Article, http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/c83ebe935009d14cca2569de0025c18a?OpenDocument]

LANTANA
Critical Review

Lantana (2001) directed by Ray Lawrence is a brilliant Australian film that leaves the viewer thinking about it for hours after it's over. It is a murder mystery but more than that it delves into the mystery of relationships. Set in Sydney Australia, Lantana begins by slowly panning through lantana (a garden weed that has spread in Australia) and stopping on the dead body of a woman. You come to the conclusion that this is a premonition of what is to come. The next scene shows Leon (Anthony Lapaglia) and Jane (Rachael Blake) having sex. Afterwards they have a conversation over the disappearance of Jane's earring and she says "I'm just fond of them. My husband gave them to me." 1 This introduction to the movie immediately initiates the intricate, intertwining relationships between the characters and the question, who is the woman that is going to die? Lantana explores realistic relationship problems through a complex mosaic of lives.

"It's about human vulnerability, it's about people reaching a particular stage in their life where they need to question and re-examine how they're living their life particularly in the nature of love, particularly in the nature of relationships". - Andrew Bovell, (Writer) 2

I think Lantana is a credit to Australian cinema. It includes realistic acting, an array of believable situations that the viewer can relate to, a clever, interesting plotline and a quality that remains throughout the entire movie. I think Lantana represents the vulnerability and loneliness that people expose themselves to through love for other people. The only faults that I found in Lantana were the slowness of the plot evolution and the fact that the murder was a major subplot... however I searched for these 'faults' because all in all I thought it was a fantastic, intriguing, realistic, thoughtful movie with a great cast. I think the most common let downs in movies are the endings and I think Lantana's was perfect in the fact that it wasn't perfect. It ends with Leon and Sonja dancing and staring into each other's eyes. Rather than a happy ending where they are smiling and kissing it is realistic, they are simply together, trying. They do not look happy nor sad, simply willing to try. Another part of the film that I found significant to the meanings conveyed is when Nik gets arrested. Jane asks Daniella how she knows Nik didn't murder the woman and Daniella replies "Because he told me" 3. Daniella and Nik are the only couple in the movie with no relationship problems and I think this line indicates it's due to unquestionable trust. Lantana analyses the inner workings of a series of relationships. It provides examples of what holds relationships together: grief, trust, passion or fear. It studies relationships and encourages the viewer to see themselves or aspects of their life in the characters. Plus it is uniquely Australian, in its characters, its set and its issues. If I had to rate this movie I would give it 9 out of 10.
Lantana was accepted very well at the time of its release and that was illustrated by the fact that it earned the second highest gross amount out of Australian films in 2001 (beaten by Moulin Rouge). It was illustrated yet again at the AFI awards where it won: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won awards in the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards and many other awards.

"I want cinema to challenge me, to move me, and to make me think about what's important. Lantana does all that splendidly. It's a landmark Australian film, it's a landmark film regardless of country of origin."4 - Margaret Pomeranz (Co-presenter and executive producer of The Movie Show)

Although Lantana received mostly good reviews, I found some unimpressed reviews, especially from international critics. "A tedious, not thrilling cop flick for the Art House."5 - An American critic that calls himself 'Cranky Critic'. Despite these few non-praising reviews Lantana stands out as a uniquely Australian, respected film in the international market. "Lantana is a strong, consistently engrossing drama that boils with emotions distinctly real and recognizable. This brooding Australian drama might not scale the heights of commercial possibility but it possesses grace and spirit, not to mention a universally recognizable thematic undertow that might reel in an appreciative adult audience."6 - Erin Fee (The Hollywood Reporter)
Lantana was adapted from Andrew Bovell's stage play Speaking in Tongues. Despite Ray Lawrence being a reputable director and Jan Chapman a reputable producer it was difficult to collect funding for Lantana. "While there was great support from the Australian Film Finance Corporation, an Australian government funding body, the funds they were prepared to invest had to be matched by other sources."7 - Jan Chapman. The investors (MBP) insisted that there be at least three actors of International profile which proved difficult because Chapman and Lawrence wanted it to be authentic Australian and there are not too many Australian actors of International profile.
Ray Lawrence chose to make this film as realistic as possible and naturalistic as possible. He insisted on using only natural light which made for a difficult challenge for cinematographer Mandy Walker because there is less control when using natural light. Production for Lantana began in Sydney in October 2000 and finished just before Christmas 2000. Editing then began and editor, Karl Sodersten found this challenging due to there being so many intertwining relationships and him having the responsibility to ensure the audience would not get lost in what was happening yet also not gain too much knowledge at the beginning of the film. Paul Kelly and his band produced the music score for the film. The film was completed in March 2001.

"LANTANA is about that moment in life when you wake up and say 'How the hell did this become my life?"8 - Anthony Lapaglia

On Thursday October 18th Lantana was showing at 59 cinemas Australia wide and made $1.1 million in its first week. Tait Brady, the manager of Palace films said "Lantana's popularity has far exceeded everyone's predictions, including even our own high expectations. More importantly, all the feedback from cinemas is that audiences are totally knocked out by the film, with spontaneous applause as the credits roll being reported by many exhibitors."9 Lantana opened in New York at the Australian Film Festival on October 5th 2001. Lantana opened in Spain for its European Premiere on September 21st 2001.

"Lantana has proven to be one of the most important Australian films in recent years. The U.S. distributor, Lions Gate, is planning a strategic release later this year to qualify for major film awards"10 - Gary Hamilton (Beyond Films General Manager).

Ray Lawrence has been directing commercials since the 70's. His feature debut Bliss (1985) was an international success both critically and financially. After doing Bliss Lawrence continued doing commercials and writing screenplays. After a 16 year break from feature films Lawrence directed Lantana. He is now recognised as one of the top ten commercial directors by the United States.
Mandy Walker made her first Australian Feature film Return Home in 1989. Following that she worked on a number of feature films including: Love Serenade (1996), The Well (1997), Walk The Talk (2000), Australian Rules (2002) and of course Lantana (2001). She recently finished work on the American movie Shattered Glass. Her list of accomplishments has given her the reputation as one of Australia's leading cinematographers.
Andrew Bovell wrote the screenplay's for Strictly Ballroom (1992), Head On (1998) and Lantana (2001). He wrote the stage play Speaking in Tongues which won an AWGIE award. He adapted Speaking in Tongues to write the screenplay for Lantana. He followed on to adapt the play View From the Bridge (written by Arthur Miller) and a remake of the Japanese drama Chaos. His plays include: State of Defence (1987), Ship Of Fools (1988), After Dinner (1988), Holyday (1989), Scenes From a Separation (1995) and Who's Afraid of the Working Class (1999).
Anthony Lapaglia has been in over 60 productions and is now a respected actor around the world. Some of his films include: Autumn in New York, The House of Mirth, Sweet and Lowdown, Summer of Sam and The Client. Some Australian films include: Lantana, Looking for Alibrandi, Brilliant Lies and The Bank. He has won many awards which include: Best Actor at the AFI awards for Lantana, Best Leading Actor in a play for View From the Bridge won him a Tony award, his starring role in Without a Trace won him a golden globe and a guest appearance on Frasier won him an Emmy award nomination. Anthony Lapaglia "is a veteran of the big screen".11
Ray Lawrence believes that Lantana is an example of an Australian Film that is making a name for Australian films around the world. "All those films [Moulin Rouge, Mullet, The Bank, La Spagnola, Lantana and One Night the Moon] have a uniqueness about them, a collective force where you can say 'ok, they will be seen all over the world by an audience making a decision to see an Australian film'. We actually are at a point, still a fragile one where we encourage each other and its working, we have a branding, a thing called an Australian film."12 - Ray Lawrence
Australian cinema has been developing productions as early as 1886 which were mainly documentaries or stage plays. By the 60's and 70's there was great political, social and cultural change and this resulted in many Australian productions. The 80's continued with this surge bringing out productions such as: Gallipoli, Mad Max 2 and The Man From Snowy River which were greatly received in other countries. However Australian Cinema faced some problems in the 80's due to financial problems. By 1988, 255 films were selected and shown at 59 international film festivals. Australian Cinema has been an ambassador by informing others about our country. The difficulty for Australian Films is that we are a small country (population wise) and funding is a big issue. However Australian Cinema is making a name for itself in international markets. More great Australian Films are being produced each year and there is only promise for the future.
Lantana is considered to be a psychological mystery, a melodrama and a love story. It fits a series of genres due to the intertwining plots that make up the story; a murder and a series of diverse, realistic relationships. "Lantana is an intriguing psychological drama about love, infidelity and mistrust. It's about the mistakes we make, the consequences we suffer and the attempts we make to fix things up."13 Lantana embraces a range of relationship issues that are evident in society and presents them in a distinctively Australian manner.

"It's a mystery, a thriller, but more than anything else it's about the human dimension...what we want in life, trust in relationships is so difficult to attain and yet so easy. It's a landmark Australian film, it's a landmark film regardless of country of origin."14 - Margaret Pomeranz

Bibliography

720 ABC Perth, http://www.abc.net.au/perth/stories/s782533.htm (accessed 27/4/2004)

All Movie Guide: Lantana http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll, (accesses 28/4/2004)

Artery Stories Arts and Culture: The Pulse of Triple J http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/arts/archive/artery_2002_May2002.htm (accesses 26/4/2004)

BBC Films, Anthony Lapaglia Interview: Lantana http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2002/08/02/anthony_lapaglia_lantana_interview.shtml

Bulletin Ed Desk Article, http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/bulletin/EdDesk.nsf/0/aeb19e880e65ccefca256b0500134554?OpenDocument (accessed 27/4/2004)

Cranky Critic.Com: Lantana, http://www.crankycritic.com/archive01/lantana.html (accessed 25/4/2004)

Hollywood.Com: Lantana 2001 http://www.hollywood.com/movies/detail/movie/416112 (accessed 27/4/2004)

The Hollywood Reporter.Com, Lantana: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1028721 (accessed 30/4/2004)

Internet Sites: Media Studies, Communication Studies and Mass Communications http://wwwlib.murdoch.edu.au/internet/sshe/
comm.html (accessed 24/4/2004)

Lantana Homepage, http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm, (accessed 29/4/2004)

Metacritic; DVD and Video: Lantana http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/lantana/ (accessed 28/4/2004)

The Movie Show: Reviews http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=766 (accessed 27/4/2004)

Rotten Tomatoes 2001: Lantana http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/Lantana-1111228/reviews.php?sortby=date&critic=columns (accessed 29/4/2004)

Senses of Cinema: Interview with Mandy Walker, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/02/23/walker.html, (accessed 28/4/2004)

SMH, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/05/1022982722740.html (accessed 28/4/2004)

Stage to Screen: Speaking with Andrew Bovell, http://www.playbill.com/features/article/66672.html (accessed 26/4/2004)

Urban Cinefile: Andrew Bovell, Lantana http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=5333&s=Interviews (accessed 28/4/2004)

Yahoo Movies: Lantana 2001 http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hv&cf=info&id=1807479798 (accessed 27/4/2004)

Yearbook Australia Special Article, http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/c83ebe935009d14cca2569de0025c18a?OpenDocument]

1 Lantana (Ray Lawrence, Australia, 2001)
2 Lantana: "The Nature of Lantana, Documentary of the film" (Ray Lawrence, Australia, 2001)
3 Lantana (Ray Lawrence, Australia, 2001)
4 The Movie Show: Reviews http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=766 (accessed 27/4/2004)
5 Cranky Critic: Lantana http://www.crankycritic.com/archive01/lantana.html (accessed 25/4/2004)
6 The Hollywood Reporter.Com: Lantana http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1028721 (accessed 30/4/2004)
7 Lantana Homepage http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm (accessed 29/4/2004)
8 Lantana Homepage http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm (accessed 29/4/2004)
9 Lantana Homepage http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm (accessed 29/4/2004)
10 Lantana Homepage http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm (accessed 29/4/2004)
11 Lantana Homepage http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm (accessed 29/4/2004)
12 The Movie Show: Reviews http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=766 (accessed 27/4/2004)
13 Lantana Homepage http://www.palace.net.au/lantana/index.htm (accessed 29/4/2004)
14 The Movie Show: Reviews http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=766 (accessed 27/4/2004)


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