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Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look47.62%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 4.76%
Total Crap: 14.29%

1 review, 15 user ratings

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Oscar and Lucinda
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by Filmink Magazine (owes us money)

"A rewarding, admirable adaptation of a very long, difficult book."
4 stars

Peter Carey's Oscar And Lucinda is the kind of novel that could put a reader's back out. Heavy in both respects of the word, it is a book that could have done in many a potential adaptor. Long, detailed and picaresque, it is not exactly John Grisham.

Stepping up to bat is Australian auteur Gillian Armstrong, hot off her recent success with the superb Little Women and her wonderful doco Not Fourteen Again. An intelligent and graceful director, Armstrong is the perfect choice for this material. The involvement of screenwriter Laura Jones, however, casts some shadows. Responsible for the laborious adaptation of Portrait of a Lady, cutting a book to its bare essentials is not her strong point.

This pairing delivers a moving success, with only some minor flaws. Two hopeless gamblers - religious Oscar (Fiennes) and glass factory owner Lucinda (Blanchett) - are thrown together by chance. Unable to admit their love for one another, they gamble with their lives instead. Oscar bets his life against Lucinda's money that he can satisfy her love of glass by transporting a beautiful glass church deep into the Australian outback. Will this be a fool's gamble or the ultimate testament to undying love?

Though a seemingly slim premise, the film is rich with character and meaning, tackling questions of religion and personal morality. Layered, multi-dimensional and anchored by flesh and blood characters, Oscar and Lucinda is a highly ambitious film.

Armstrong's fine work with character, and attention to period detail, are unfortunately marred by Jones' fear of judicious cutting. Supporting players that have no real bearing on the story are left swinging aimlessly and drag on the film's essential drive. Scenes that may have worked on the page slow the pace and occasionally stop the film dead in its tracks.

These minor flaws, however, are over ridden by the powerful characters and the excellent actors portraying them. With dyed red hair and nervous, skittish mannerisms, Fiennes is not his usual uberhunk self. Off-putting at first, his seemingly mannered performance is gradually seen to be true of his damaged, desperate character. Boldly playing against type, Fiennes has succeeded in expanding his already impressive range.

After luminous supporting roles in Paradise Road and Thank God He met Lizzie, Blanchett takes her first lead role and confidently announces herself as star.

Despite some minor imperfections, Armstrong has made a film as subtle, entrancing and daring as Oscar's glass church. A rewarding, admirable adaptation of a very long, difficult book. ---Erin Free

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originally posted: 09/14/98 17:41:04
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User Comments

2/19/10 brian Funny, sweet, sad, romantic, evocative, beautiful to look at. 4 stars
1/17/05 Gullytrap It's 'Up the Creek' with a glass church...BUT WHERE'S STEVEN FURST YOU BASTARDS??? 1 stars
10/02/03 Mopsa One of my favorite movies ever. 5 stars
4/26/02 sdfr what a beautiful movie this is: warm, poignant, yet somehow epic in scope. loved it. 5 stars
4/16/01 marnie It has two great Australian Actresses Cate Blanchett and Josephine Byrnes (Miriam) 4 stars
6/06/00 Pete Really Good 5 stars
6/05/00 Paul I can't stop watching it 5 stars
3/24/00 Lesley Cate shines-that opening scene! 4 stars
3/01/00 Ionicera Emotional, gorgeous, and intelligent. I would love to see more of Carey's works on screen 5 stars
12/19/99 Juliet Subtle, beautiful film . 5 stars
12/10/99 wendy lucas absolutely wonderful - the best aussie film ever - if you haven't seen it, then do! 5 stars
9/16/99 strike BBBOOOORRRIIINNNGG 1 stars
11/12/98 Lord Of The Dunce For all the money they spent, this movie sucked balls. Fiennes was a bad, Blanchett great. 2 stars
9/07/98 BBReBozo Movies with two name titles suck. Period. (See Henry/June, Benny/Joon, etc. etc. etc.) 1 stars
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  31-Dec-1997 (R)
  DVD: 11-Jan-2005


  22-Jan-1998 (M)

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