Ray Lawrence
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Australian director Ray Lawrence debuted with Bliss (1985).

Lantana (2001), liberally adapted from Andrew Bovell's stage play "Speaking in Tongues", is an ensemble drama that follows four couples whose marriage is more or less visibly in trouble. Except that, from the very beginning, we know that a murder has been committed, and therefore there is a murderer. Thus the film is a detective film in reverse, that painstakingly reveals the premises of the crime even before disclosing the identity of the victim. This long preamble becomes an orgy of frustrated and perverted feelings, and slowly reveals a maze of deception. The interwined stories are drenched in an atmosphere filled with mystery and reminiscent of a more rational, sober David Lynch.

The first scene explores the limbs of a corpse (a woman) rotting in the jungle. The second scene shows a couple having sex. They are not wild young lovers, they are middle-aged married adults, Leon and Jane. Jane lost her earrings. Leon finds Jane's earring while he is driving away to a meeting with his beautiful blonde wife, Sonya. They take classes together, but Leon just can't dance sexy with her. Jane is also in the same class, and watches amused as the instructor criticizes Leon's cold attitude.
Suddenly the scene changes again: the police break into a drug dealer's house, and Leon leads the charge, using brutal methods. Suddenly he is a blood-thirsty psycho.
Leon's wife is visiting another beautiful woman, psychiatrist Valerie, and Sonya, in tears, tells her that she wishes her marriage was passionate.
Later Valerie gives a lecture about her daughter, who was murdered while still a child. Her husband is among the audience. Their marriage has been devastated by the tragedy.
Jane tells of her affair with Leon to a neighbor, Paula, a nurse married to Nik. We learned that it was the first time. Jane, who has no desire to go back to her husband, decides to meet Leon again and walks in front of his police station. They have sex again, but this time Leon has to stop because of chest pain. It sounds like Leon is not into starting a relationship, just enjoying a one-night stand, whereas Jane is looking for a long-term relationship.
Back home, Leon goes jogging and has a weird accident: a head-on collision with another jogger, who then breaks into tears.
Valerie is treating a gay man who is having an affair with a married man. At the same time, deeply unhappy, she suspects that her husband is having an affair, and possibly a homosexual one, since he cannot make love to her anymore. It is only a matter of time before she starts suspecting that her husband is having an affair with her gay patient.
The only couple that seems to be happy is Paula and Nik, despite the fact that they are the poorest and Nik is currently unemployed. But Jane tries her best to disrupt their marriage: she is attracted to Nik and invites him for coffee when his wife is at work.
Valerie, distressed by another session with the gay patient, gets angry at a passer-by whom she thinks said something to her. That was Jane's husband. Jane's husband then walks into a bar and meets Leon, her wife's lover, and tells him what happened. Leon tells him what happened with the jogger. They trade pointless stories, without knowing that they have a very important story in common.
Valerie has an accident by herself while drive at night and has to walk the nearest phone booth. Sonya goes out dancing by herself and enjoys the company of a young man who tells he wants sex with her. She almost goes all the way but has second thoughts when the man starts undressing her in his car. Leon is furious with her because he found one of their sons smoking pot in the house, and she let him do it (rather than having him do it outside where they cannot control him).
Valerie calls her husband from the phone booth and leaves him a long message about how distressed she is by their crisis and that she still loves him. Then she flags down a car.
Jane, sleepless, spies Nik, her best friend's husband, from the window of her apartment. She sees Nick come home late and throwing something in the bushes.
The police find Valerie's car but not Valerie. (We realize that she is the woman of the first scene). Leon leads the investigation. By going through the files of the psychiatrist, he learns that his wife was one of her patients.
Paula tells Jane that she doesn't like her way of spying on her husband Nik. But Jane finds the thing that Nik threw away: a woman's shoe.
Sonya learns of Valerie's disappearance from the tv. Leon confronts Sonya about her sessions with the psychiatrist and they argue to no avail.
Leon takes Valerie's wife on the site of the crime only to tell him that he is the main suspect. The man, who has lost a daughter and probably a wife in a short time, is disgusted by Leon.
Jane asks her ex husband for advice, and he calls the police to turn in the shoe. When Leon arrives at the house, he realizes whose house it is. When the Jane's husband opens the door, he realizes that this is the stranger he met in a bar. Leon arrests Nik, who denies any wrongdoing and simply asks the neighbors (Jane and her husband) to take care of the children, as Paula is at work. When Paula arrives at the police station, even Leon is touched by the way they hug each other and the way she believes him. His version of the facts is that he did give Valerie a ride when she flags him down that night, but then Valerie jumped out of his truck when she got afraid of him. He ran after her but she disappeared in the jungle, leaving only that shoe behind her.
The police search the jungle and find the body, the body of the first scene. Valerie's husband is devastated: he admits to Leon that he was home when Valerie called from the phone booth. He did not pick up the phone.
Leon walks to his car and listens to a tape made by Valerie of a conversation with Sonya. Sonya says that what hurts most is not that Leon may be having an affair but that he doesn't tell her. And Leon starts crying. Then he goes home and tells his wife that he doesn't want to lose her.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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