Sunday, August 5, 2012

You've Got to See This: "Lantana" (2001)

Continuing my series highlighting movies you may not have seen (or in some cases, heard of), this week's movie is 2001's Lantana, an Australian movie which did get some acclaim here in the US. (Previous posts in the "You've Got to See This" series can be found here and here.)

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. And sometimes even when we don't.

A woman's body is found. Police detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia, in full-on Without a Trace taciturnity) is assigned to investigate. Zat has been cheating on his wife whom, in secret, has been seeing a psychiatrist (Barbara Hershey) whose own marriage is corroded by grief, as she thinks her husband (Geoffrey Rush, twitchy and secretive) is having an affair with a gay patient of hers. Late one night, the doctor skids off a back road, finds a call box, and tries in vain to reach her husband. She sees headlights and flags down the driver.

Leon's lover, Jane, is recently separated, and her neighbors include a muscular unemployed man. One night, Jane sees her neighbor park his truck and throw something into the lantana in a vacant lot. It's a woman's shoe.

The more Leon digs into what happened that night, the more it threatens to upend the lives of five different couples. The twists and turns keep coming, and the discoveries are at times shocking.

This is a tremendously well-acted, thought-provoking, and intelligent movie that will keep you wondering and pondering long after it is over. It's much more a movie of quiet moments than explosive ones, but if anything, that adds to its power. LaPaglia, Hershey, and Rush, as well as some of the supporting characters, give strong, believable performances.

Definitely one to add to your list.

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