Cast left for dead
Director: Fred Schepisi ( Last Orders ) Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Charlotte Rampling, John Gaden, Helen Morse
Could have blown over quicker LIKE the central figure in this ambitious adaptation of the celebrated Patrick White novel,
The Eye of the Storm coughs a little, splutters a lot and then finally passes away.
Unlike the elderly matriarch Elizabeth Hunter ( Charlotte Rampling) – making mischief while propped up in her deathbed for the duration of the film – The Eye of the Storm just doesn’t know when its time is up.
Running at almost two hours, this uneven production spends too long doing too little with its wonderful cast. Patience is not only a virtue here, it’s an outright necessity.
The year is 1972. The city is Sydney. And the end is near for old Mrs Hunter, a wealthy grazier’s widow. Her home is a flurry of activity in preparation for the arrival of ‘‘ the children’’.
Both kids appear to have blown out at least 50 candles on a birthday cake. Both have lived a majority of their adult lives overseas, enjoying some early success before hitting hard times. Neither, it must be said, is too moved by the plight of their ailing mother.
Sir Basil ( Geoffrey Rush), a once-famous actor on the London stage, would rather plant himself in a nearby beer garden and talk with the local thespians. Any offers of female company will always be accepted. Princess Dorothy ( Judy Davis), still clinging to her title though no longer married to a member of the French aristocracy, is not as socially nor sexually inclined as her brother. But she is just as broke.
Rampling’s scenes as Elizabeth are a masterclass in refined, resourceful acting. If you do bond with this fitfully intriguing drama in any way, it will be all thanks to her.
As for Rush and Davis, well, both are left a little wanting by a script that never quite captures the essence of their characters. Unfortunately, for a floridly appointed Rush, though he is playing a supposed pantsman of the stage, in close-up he looks like more of an old dame than the everradiant Rampling.
Veteran director Fred Schepisi should have done more to tighten up this rambling affair.