Nicole Kidman invites you to explore “Australia”


Epic. Sweeping. Romantic. Such bold declarative descriptions only seem right when you name your film after an entire continent. And, after watching the trailer for the new Baz Luhrmann drama Australia, they seem only fitting. The director’s long-awaited follow-up to Moulin Rouge stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in an epic, sweeping, romantic drama set in – where else – Australia at the brink of World War II.

With names like Luhrmann, Kidman and Jackman (hey, man, I detect a theme!) attached, the expectations are obviously high. As some of Australia’s highest profile international stars, the trio is no doubt anxious to paint a different picture of the land down under than just a place where women glow and men plunder. So, take a look.

(To see it in high-definition, click here.)

Now, I hate to say this given the talent involved, but the first thing I noticed was the wonderful art deco font used for the title cards. The old-fashioned newsreel feel is fantastic and sets the tone instantly. I had to resist the urge to scour font sites immediately to find and download the typeface. But enough about my unrequited graphic design crush. How about the movie?

The trailer lays out the broad brush strokes of the story. And, when I say broad, I mean broad. Nicole’s character attempts to explain the plot by way of a bedtime story. But all she tells us is that there is a girl, a magic man, a storm and a faraway land called Oz. Wait, I’ve seen this film. Are they off to see the Wonderful Wizard? In which case, where is the Yellow Brick Road?

But instead of munchkins and wicked witches, we see cotton-candy skies, horses, cattle, fires, bombers, kissing and an aboriginal fellow painted in mud. The film follows an English aristocrat (the “girl,” played by Nicole) and an Aussie cattle drover (the “magic man,” played by Hugh) who join forced to help save the land she inherits. Their journey is set against the backdrop of the Japanese bombing of the city of Darwin.

As stylishly tantalizing as the trailer is, it’s hard to tell if the film will deliver on the Oscar bait it promises. The movie definitely looks gorgeous. But it also looks vaguely like a mash-up between Far and Away, The English Patient and Pearl Harbor. What I do know is that Nicole could use a hit: The Oscar-winning star has had a string of flops from The Stepford Wives to Bewitched,The Invasion and The Golden Compass.

But, at least her upper-crust role in Australia plays to her strength. Nicole porcelain perfection can come off as imperious or even icy (and that’s not even taking in account her strangely frozen visage of late). Hugh, in the meantime, is seriously working his inner Clint Eastwood.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to visit Australia?

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