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Journey Among Women
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Naked lesbian convicts go bush"
3 stars

Journey Among Women is an unusual hybrid – Australian historical adventure and low-budget co-operative feminist experiment.

Director-cinematographer and co-writer Tom Cowan took an improvisatory approach, bringing a disparate group of women into the bush for acting workshops and filming (there’s even a credit for “Bushcraft” in the closing titles).

The women play a group of mistreated female convicts, and a posh colonist’s daughter, who escape their squalid prison, flee into the landscape and turn wild. They successfully repel the military’s attempt to recapture them, though the daughter returns to the colony and a number of the convicts are killed.

The early scenes in captivity are amateurishly acted and awkwardly scripted, and some imaginative staging can’t disguise the stilted performances. But the actors are far more convincing and compelling in the middle of the film, as they explore and are altered by their surroundings. The climactic attack and its resolution are surprisingly exciting.

For an essentially fringe feature, Journey Among Women attracted a wider-than-expected audience 25 years ago because of its reputation for graphic female nudity and lesbianism. It’s still intriguing viewing today, although perhaps more notable for its intentions than execution.

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originally posted: 07/24/03 07:48:59
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