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 Kerri got to see two movies yesterday. In the afternoon, while I napped, she took the kids to see "Inception". She and DS liked it, DD not so much. Science Fiction movies should involve more spaceships and lasers. Fair point.

And then in the evening Kerri and I went off to see South Solitary.

As you may see from what I hope is the trailer video embedded above, this is a movie about sheep and lighthouses. And the way that eight people on a small, remote island interact.

The movie is set in 1928, before lighthouse keepers (at least in Australia) had radio communication. Telling the world about the various dramas and emergencies was the province of carrier pigeons - unwilling to fly in gales and tasty catches for sea eagles - or signal flags that may or may not be read by passing ships.

The location of the lighthouse is not specified, which is good. "South Solitary" is the name of an island off the New South Wales coast, the story was intended to be about a Tasmanian lighthouse - where the weather is a good deal less clement than subtropical Coffs Harbour - and the movie itself was mostly filmed at Cape Otway in Victoria.

Miranda Otto and costars

Meredith Appleton (played by Miranda Otto) is far too well-dressed for the part. Her clothes are gorgeous, but she's supposed to be a poor relation, and just how well-suited are slinky dresses for tramping around an island anyway? She's a woman with a past, and she has some interesting encounters with the other residents, until it's just she and a shell-shocked WW1 veteran huddling together as a storm shakes the tall stone tower of the lighthouse.

Some funny moments, some tender scenes, but if you are looking for the lighthouse to link two passing ships, you are going to be unsatisfied at film's end.

What I enjoyed most was the photography. Some glorious images of sea and lighthouse, rocks and waves, sky and scrub. A continuing undercurrent of 1920s atmosphere - no electricity (though somehow there's an alarm bell that goes off, usually about three in the morning), hurricane lanterns, mantles, woodstoves, dinner on four legs, and entertainment provided by a meagre rack of tattered hardbacks.

There's also an unhealthy fascination with the thought of Meredith in her bath. Her head-keeper uncle (Barry Otto) is apparently the only character on the island who doesn't have this image running through their mind on a loop. And look what happens to him!

Enjoyable yarn about people in a place.


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September 2010

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