"Lack of Trust Breeds Faithlessness and Tragedy"
What You Need To Know:
LANTANA is the kind of drama that builds in power as it goes along. The major theme in the movie is how lack of trust can erode the bonds of matrimony and family. Anthony LaPaglia is positively brilliant in his role as the conflicted, philandering Detective Zat. Screenwriter Andrew Bovell and director Ray Lawrence deliver a powerful, heartfelt, positive denouement that rebukes infidelity and extols marriage and family. Some judicious editing of the gratuitous sex scenes and foul language would have greatly improved LANTANA. Also, the movie’s redemptive scenes would have played even more strongly if the filmmakers had dared to include some timely Christian or scriptural references in their movie
(BB, C, Ho, LLL, V, SS, NN, A, D, M) Solid moral worldview with redemptive elements supporting marriage & rebuking infidelity, plus psychiatrist talks disdainfully with promiscuous homosexual patient; 37 mostly strong obscenities & 7 mostly strong profanities; mostly implied violence including image of dead woman, man jogging accidentally knocks over another man, bloodying both their faces, attempted, & another accident causes tragedy; depicted adultery, attempted rape & homosexual discusses having an affair with a man who’s married with several children; partial nudity during sex acts; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying & adultery eventually rebuked.
The lantana bush in Australia is a lovely plant, filled with exotic, beautiful flowers. Beneath this beauty, however, lies a thick thorny growth.
The Australian movie LANTANA opens with an image of a dead woman’s body underneath some lantana bushes. LANTANA then turns its attention to police detective Leon Zat, played by Anthony LaPaglia, who was so marvelous in BETSY’S WEDDING and won a Tony Award for his starring role in Arthur Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE in 1998. Detective Zat is consumed with guilt about cheating on his wife, Sonja (Kerry Armstrong), who is secretly seeing a psychiatrist, played by Barbara Hershey. The psychiatrist, Valerie, is having problems with her own marriage to her psychiatrist husband, John, played by Geoffrey Rush from SHINE. Valerie and John have not yet recovered from losing their little girl, who was found murdered in an alley. Detective Zat’s mistress, Jane, is separated herself from her friendly husband Pete because she’s apparently bored with him. The only happy couple in this movie seem to be Jane’s next door neighbors, Nik and Paula, a young, working class couple struggling to get by with three small children.
Detective Zat and his partner, Claudia, who’s still searching for a mate, become embroiled in a missing persons investigation. Their investigation will have important consequences for all of these characters. Although tragedy strikes one of the married couples, and threatens another one, it strengthens the bonds between one couple and renews the bonds of another. In the end, LANTANA rebukes infidelity and extols marriage and family.
LANTANA is the kind of drama that builds in power slowly as it goes along. This will be especially true for moral moviegoers, who have to endure some fairly graphic sex scenes and foul language as they get to the movie’s redemptive second half. The major theme in the movie is how lack of trust can erode the bonds of matrimony and family. In fact, lack of trust actually results in one person’s death. LANTANA also brilliantly shows how lack of trust in a marriage can build a wall of separation between a couple. That wall is never more clear than in one important sequence where one spouse is forced to relay messages to their spouse by leaving urgent messages on an answering machine – or should we say “unanswering machine?”
Anthony LaPaglia is positively brilliant in his role as the conflicted, philandering Detective Zat. Through his investigation, Detective Zat finally realizes the redemptive value of having a healthy marriage, and he gains viewers’ sympathies as he tries to pick up the pieces of his failed relationship with Sonja. As he does this, viewers will root for him, and screenwriter Andrew Bovell and director Ray Lawrence deliver a powerful, heartfelt, positive denouement. Kerry Armstrong and Barbara Hershey as Zat’s wife and her psychiatrist also deliver marvelous performances.
Some judicious editing of the gratuitous sex scenes and foul language would have greatly improved LANTANA. Also, the movie’s redemptive scenes would have played even more strongly if the filmmakers had dared to include some timely Christian or scriptural references in their movie. As the Prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 63:16, “You, O Lord, are our Father and our Redeemer.”