- Lantana (film)
name = Lantana
caption = Theatrical release poster
Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake, Vince Colosimo, Russell Dykstra, Daniela Farinacci, Peter Phelps, Leah Purcell, Glenn Robbins
music = Paul Kelly
production design =
runtime = 115 min
country = AUS
language = English
imdb_id = 0259393
"Lantana" is a 2001 Australian
film, directed by Ray Lawrence. It is based on the play "Speaking In Tongues" by Andrew Bovell, which premiered at Sydney's Griffin Theatre Company. The film won seven AFI Awardsincluding Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (LaPaglia), Best Actress (Armstrong), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Lantana is set in
suburbanSydney and focuses on the relationships between the characters in the film. The central event of the film is the disappearance and death of a woman whose body is shown at the start of the film, but whose identity is not revealed until later.
The name "Lantana" derives from the plant
Lantana, a weed prevalent in suburban Sydney.
The movie opens with Leon (
Anthony LaPaglia) having sex with Jane (Rachael Blake) in a motel room. Jane, recently separated from her husband, is in a dance class with Leon and his wife, Sonja ( Kerry Armstrong). Sonja is a homemaker and mother of two with a passion for Latin dance and a deep sense of unease about her marriage to Leon. Leon and Sonja attend Latin dance class together. Leon appears to dislike the dancing and does not attempt to learn it. He will not take her out dancing, so she goes by herself. In one of her nights out dancing, Sonja has the opportunity to have an affair with her Latin dance instructor, but stops herself. She is being treated by Valerie ( Barbara Hershey), a therapist still deeply mourning the murder of her eleven-year-old daughter, Eleanor. The film shows some of Valerie's other sessions, including one session with a gay client, Patrick, who is having an affair with a married man. Valerie convinces herself that 'married man' is her husband, John, who she suspects is having this affair. John, ( Geoffrey Rush) feels increasingly alienated from his wife. He is angry that she wrote a book about their daughter's murder.
Valerie is seen driving home late at night. She falls asleep at the wheel, and runs her car off the road. Her car will not restart, and she is frightened. She goes across the road to a phone box and attempts to call her husband. She leaves several messages on their home answering machine. The last message she leaves shows she is extremely frightened and upset, and says she believes John is having an affair with her gay client. She ends the message by saying she sees headlights approaching, and she will flag down the car and get a ride home, ending with "We will work everything out...I love you."
The next morning her husband calls the police to report that Valerie never came home. The officer he speaks with is Leon. The police find her car. They take the tape from the home answering machine, and go to her office to get her client list. While in the office, Leon notices his wife is Valerie's client. He grabs her tape and later, when his partner is not with him, listens to it. Sonja says that that a marriage should be challenging, honest, and passionate. and that hers did not feel that way anymore. Sonja explains she thinks Leon is having an affair. She says the affair would not be the biggest betrayal to her, but rather Leon not telling her about it. Valerie asks her, "Do you still love him." At that point, Leon stops the tape.
Leon and Jane again meet again to continue their affair. Leon has a weak heart, and Jane says she would have liked to have known that about the man with whom she was having an affair. Leon exclaims, "This is not an affair, this is a one night stand that happened twice." Leon's partner figures out about the 'affair', and later covers for him when his wife calls. His partner tells Leon that he has "a great marriage", but he "is pissing all over it." Leon inquires about his partner's mystery man (a man with whom she has been exchanging glances at a coffee shop), and she says that the mystery man did not return to the coffee shop. Leon and Jane meet and have coffee. Jane asks, "Where is this relationship going?" Leon explains that he is still in love with his wife, which upsets Jane. Jane ends the relationship and leaves.
Leon arrives home late and tries to set things down quietly in order to not wake Sonja. Sonja says, "I'm not asleep." He asks if she had seen the news about Valerie being missing, and she has. He then explains that he'd seen Valerie's client list, and asks why Sonja did not tell him she was seeing Valerie as a client. Sonja explains it was something she had to do for herself. Leon says, "There was a time when there were no secrets between us." He then confesses he had an affair, but is no longer in it. Sonja is very upset, she feels betrayed. Leon sleeps on the couch, and Sonja tells him the next morning he'll be lucky if she returns home that night. She leaves to take their two sons to school.
Leon goes to John's house to interrogate him. Leon sees John as a primary suspect in Valerie’s disappearance because John's alibi is that he worked very late, but no one can verify that. They sit on John's back porch and have a drink. Leon starts a discussion about love and marriage. John asks if he has ever had an affair, to which Leon lies, saying he has not. John says, "Then you are a better man than me. I had one once, not anymore. But, once that trust is broken, it is something that can never be repaired." Then John asks Leon what holds his marriage together. Leon says love, children, and sometimes passion. John then says, "Our marriage was held together by grief (over their murdered daughter). That was all we had left." They end the conversation with John explaining he was not at work when his wife called him from the road, but rather he was at the place where their daughter was killed. He says he visits there often, although Valerie does not know.
Later, in a bar, Leon drinks with Peter, Jane's soon-to-be ex-husband, only to learn who he is when Leon goes to Jane's house on police duty, because Jane has placed a call. Peter had appeared earlier in the film; showing up at Jane's house when she wasn't home, questioning the neighbor, Nik (
Vince Colosimo), about Jane's activities. Nik is married to Paula ( Daniella Farinacci), a nurse, and they have three children. They are the only couple in the movie who appear to be honest with each other. Paula, who is friendly with Jane, is suspicious of Jane after Nik claims that Jane came on to him.
Jane is up late one night and notices Nik arriving home late. She watches him through the blinds. He looks around to make sure no one is watching, then throws something into the bushes across from Jane's house. The next day while Nik is taking his baby for a walk, Jane goes across the lot and pulls out the object, which turns out to be a woman's high heel shoe. After Jane calls the police, Leon and his partner arrive. Jane tells Leon that, despite their affair, they should treat the situation as police work and act as though they never met each other. It turns out the shoe belongs to Valerie.
Nik, in attempt to quickly find someone to watch the kids while he goes to the police statin, leaves them with Jane and Peter. The police take Nik to the station, and call Paula to come in. At this point neither Nik or Paula know that Jane made the phone call. Although Paula does not like Jane, she calls her. and somewhat thanks her for watching the kids explaining that she will be home as soon as possible.
The police interrogate Nik but he refuses, repeatedly asking to see his wife, Paula. The officers call in Paula, and in front of Nik, explain about the shoe and the missing woman. Nik looks at Paula and explains that he didn't do it. Paula and Nik, being the only honest couple presented in the movie, know each other well enough to know if the other is lying. Paula realizes that Nik is telling the truth, and embraces Nik to comfort him. This moves Leon to see a husband and wife who fight for each other during the good and the bad.
After seeing his wife, Nik calms down and talks with Leon and his partner. Nik explains he was out drinking with some friends of his (who Paula knew) and had drunk a little too much. He decided to take the back roads. Coming around a curve, he saw a woman waving him down. He says he didn't want to stop because he knew Paula would be worried about him being late, but he felt bad for the woman. She explained to him that she drove her car off the road, and needed a ride. Nik agreed to give Valerie a ride to her house. He attempts to make conversation with her, but she is very reticent, so he drives along in silence. He knows a shortcut to her house, and turns onto a back road without explaining to Valerie what he was doing. She sees the situation as a potential threat, and jumps out of the truck. Nik stops and gets out of the truck, looking through the tall grass all around for Valerie. He calls out to her, "I don't want to hurt you. Trust me." She does not return to Nik, but crawls through the grass away from the road. Nik explains to the police he was sure she would find her way out, and he didn't want to frighten her, or upset Paula, so he went home. When he saw one of Valerie's high heels in his truck, he panicked, and threw it into the bushes across the road from his house. The next morning when he learned the news that Valerie was missing, he was afraid no one would believe him, so he did not report it.
Paula goes to Jane's house to get her children. Jane enjoyed watching the children and attempts to be nice to Paula, but Paula no longer likes Jane. Paula tells jane that Nik is innocent and Jane asks her how she knows. Paula, "Because he told me." She takes her children and then later tells Jane to stay away from her children and her family.
Leon, his partner, Nik, and John go to the place where Valerie jumped out of the truck. It appears she fell while crawling about in the tall grasses. Her body is recovered, and Nik is released by the police. John sits in the car with Leon and confesses a part of the story he had not told before. He says the night that his wife disappeared he was at home. He listened to all her message but did not want to answer the phone. He just thought she would come home.
Leon seems to realize the true value of his marriage and, once he is alone, pulls out Sonja's therapy tape to listen to it again. He listens through Sonja's confessing that she thinks Leon is having an affair. Then it comes to the point when Sonja asks, "Do you still love him?" Their is a brief silence and then Sonja replies, "Yes I do." Leon bursts into tears.
Leon returns home and sees his wife outside. He goes out to her and explains that he could not imagine losing her. Sonja does not appear to respond to this. Leon is then seen lying on his side on a bed staring at the wall.
In a dialogue-free sequence using Celia Cruz's song Te Busco, the movie then flashes through the different characters showing what happened to each set. Jane is still alone and depressed. She still will not reunite with Peter. Nik and Paula are seen outside playing with their children, they continue in a happy marriage. Patrick stands outside in the rain, watching through the window as his gay lover sit in a cafe with his family. Leon's partner is seen sitting at the coffee shop alone. Her mystery man then comes up to her and asks if he can sit and talk with her. They seem to enjoy each other's company. The scene then flashes back to Leon lying on his bed. Sonja comes in and lies down besides him and then wraps her arms around him.
The movie ends with Sonja and Leon dancing together seductively. Leon, who at the beginning of the film finds dancing with his wife difficult, now appears to be doing very well. He looks Sonja directly in the eyes and dances just as she always wanted him to. Their love seems to be rekindled, although the awkward intensity between them remains.
Anthony LaPaglia- Leon Zat
*Rachael Blake - Jane O'May
Kerry Armstrong- Sonja Zat
*Jon Bennett - Steve
*Melissa Martinez - Lisa
*Nicholas Cooper - Sam Zat
*Marc Dwyer - Dylan Zat
Leah Purcell- Claudia Wiss
Barbara Hershey- Valerie Somers
Geoffrey Rush- John Knox
Glenn Robbins- Pete O'May
Daniella Farinacci- Paula D'Amato
Vince Colosimo- Nik D'Amato
Peter Phelps- Patrick Phelan
The film garnered much critical reaction from international film critics who praised it for being very realistic whilst maintaining a metaphorical message. It was also compared to the similar suburban-set thriller, "
Blue Velvet".Fact|date=March 2007 It premiered in the UK on Channel 4in December 2006.
* [http://colsearch.nfsa.afc.gov.au/nfsa/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=Number%3A488610;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10 Lantana at the National Film and Sound Archive]
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