Sydney Morning Herald Critic Sandra Hall, who’s been on the beat for 30 years, has posted the best-written review of Australia yet. “Nothing succeeds like excess,” she begins. “Oscar Wilde coined the phrase and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Baz Luhrmann has it embroidered on scatter cushions all over the house.
This still of Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman exudes a certain you-know-what, in part because of the placement of Jackman’s right hand.
“Not that he needs reminding. It is a mantra stamped on everything he does and Australia is the apotheosis. It has become the movie as superhero, charged with the job of rescuing the Australian film industry and giving us a new and shiny view of ourselves. And shiny it certainly is.
“It’s also much too long at almost three hours, deliriously camp and shamelessly overdone — an outback adventure seen through the eyes of a filmmaker steeped in the theatrical rituals and hectic colors of old-fashioned showbiz. To quote Oklahoma, one of the few Hollywood classics not to lend its influence to Luhrmann’s style, or rather medley of styles, the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.
“And so strong is his urge to celebrate the exoticism of old Australia that you half-expect to see the elephant, as well, lumbering across one of those majestic stretches of the Kimberley. Yet the film’s vigor and yes, its passion — that overused word — do engage you.
“Anachronisms abound. Kidman and Jackman speak quaintly of doing a drove. There’s an action sequence that pushes the concept of the cliffhanger much further than it was ever meant to go, and Sarah’s romance with the Drover is rife with Mills & Boon moments.”