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Starring Anthony LaPaglia and Barbara Hershey, Geoffrey Rush
Screenplay by Andrew Bovell
Directed by Ray Lawrence

IN SHORT: A tedious, not thrilling cop flick for the Art House. [Rated R for language and sexuality. 121 minutes]

Every great cop investigation has an ending that should not be revealed. Lantana, a [raging success] Down Under is unique in that we of the press have been asked not to reveal the details of the investigation! So, let's figure this out. We're not to tell you how the story goes. We hold it as a matter of personal pride that we don't reveal the doings in the Third Act. We will quote Yankee baseball legend Yogi Berra who once said "It ain't over 'til it's over" 'cuz Lantana is an incredibly tedious flick that never knows when to end.

Though there was the glimmer of intelligent plot gimmicks in the piece and though we understood what it was doing as each of the three endings wrapped up all the character elements, by the time those endings appeared the flick had become truly annoying.

A woman has disappeared and is believed to be murdered. The search for her remains has electrified the country and given Police detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) something to do to take his mind off his failing marriage. Wife Sonia (Kerry Armstrong) wants passion and honesty in the relationship, and gets neither. As for Leon, he's got a piece on the side, Jane (Rachael Blake). Jane still hopes she can fix things up with husband Pete (Glenn Robbins), who has moved out of the house.

The investigation will lead to a young man named Patrick (Peter Phelps) who is a patient of a psychaitrist played by Barbara Hershey. Hershey's psychaitrist, Valerie, has never gotten over the murder of her daughter two years earlier. She's found fame as an author of a book about the murder, whose existence husband John (Geoffrey Rush) resents.

Next door to Jane's house is the residence of Nik (Vince Colosimo) and Paula (Daniela Farinacci). She works. He works on the car. Jane will see something that makes her suspicious . . . but the whole country is suspicious about that missing woman referred to above. She will make a phone call . . .

. . . but by the time she does, the slow pace of this film had us bored out of our minds.

When the investigation leads to the inevitable conclusion -- which doesn't mean anything more than every movie must end, eventually -- it ain't over. We have to see how the conclusion affects all the remaining characters in the spotlight. Even then, it ain't over. We need to see how the characters react to how the characters react to the revelation. Even then, it ain't over. There are personal relationships that we need to see resolved as well. Even then, well, we're not sure if there were three false endings or four. When the second one hit, we were wishing we had a gun with which to splatter our brains all across the screening room.

While there are good performances by Barbara Hershey and Geoffrey Rush, the slow pace had the frustrated writer part of our brains working overtime to come up with more interesting endings, even as the film was unspooling. Not a good thing.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Lantana, he would have paid . . .



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