Plot: What’s it about?
Catherine Parker (Nicole Kidman) and her husband Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) recently moved with their two children to a rural, dusty outback town. They moved for things resulting from a conflict involving their daughter Lily (Maddison Brown). Lily seems to be something of a rebel, and she tends to do whatever she wants despite her parents telling her not to. We learn fairly early on that none of them are happy that they had to move to this quiet, secluded town. Matthew is a pharmacist and Catherine spends her time as a housewife. There’s a dust storm one day and Lily and her brother Tommy go missing. Hugo Weaving plays the detective in charge of finding them. The rest of the film shows Catherine and Matthew struggling to cope with their missing children as well as the detective talking to potential suspects. We meet only a handful of other characters, but some of them draw suspicions.
Nicole Kidman has made some interesting career choices lately, but I found this one of her better recent ones. While far from a classic, and lacking the tension that a film like Prisoners had, it still works well to warrant checking out. A big difference with this film over similar ones is that there’s more focus on the effect it has on the parents rather than it being a thriller. There are suspenseful moments for sure, but the slower pace and smaller scope keeps this feeling more like the indie type of film that it is, rather than a larger scale picture. Ultimately, the film isn’t always compelling, but the central mystery kept me hooked and I enjoyed the journey as we build towards the conclusion. It helps that the performances are top notch.
Video: How’s it look?
This transfer is quite pleasing. The open desert landscape makes for some nice visuals and the details are strong throughout. There’s an early scene of the family having dinner where I could clearly see a fly landing on a piece of food at the table. It’s not a particularly visual film, but it still looks nice in HD. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.39:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The Dolby TrueHD track also pleases. The scenes in the sandstorm show strong depth and give the rear channels a bit to work with. Mostly, though, this is a dialogue driven film and the vocals sounded fine throughout. Fans will be pleased with this track as it serves the film as it should.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The Cast – Nothing too specific here, just your typical interviews talking about each other and the film.
- The Story – Another typical feature discussing the film and mixing a bit of film clips in between.
The Bottom Line
Far from an instant classic, but also far from a dud, Strangerland works in large part to a great cast and a fairly intriguing setup. Despite some slow spots, I was eager to see how it would all conclude. It’s worth a rental, but it’s not something I’d need to see over and over.