"Strange Plot, Strange Characters, Strange Ending"
STRANGERLAND is an intense but underdeveloped Australian drama about two troubled children who run away from home with their estranged parents desperate to find them before the Australian outback’s scorching heat claims their lives. STRANGERLAND is a failed drama with excessive immoral content about a very dysfunctional family that’s not resolved in a satisfying, uplifting manner.
The Parker family has just moved to a new town in the Australian outback after a sex scandal involving their daughter and one of her teachers drove them away from their previous home. The new town is small with little to occupy Catherine and Matthew Parker’s two children, Tom, a pre-teenager, and 15-year-old Lily. The children despise their new home and despise their parents. Matthew and Catherine’s marriage is devoid of the love it once had, and their broken relationship has spilled over to the children.
Though the parents want what’s best for their family, Tom and Lily have had enough and decide to leave home one night. Matthew sees them leave under the cover of darkness, but chooses to stay silent and let them go. Later, he lies to his wife about knowing what might have happened to the children when they go missing.
The couple makes a report to the police, and soon the whole town is aware of their situation. Dozens of people pitch in to comb over the desert in hopes of finding the kids. This greatly disturbs Matthew, who’s afraid of reliving the embarrassment of their daughter’s sexual reputation again. As the investigation unfolds, it becomes apparent Lily has had sexual relations with several young men around town. Catherine’s anxiety about her missing children slowly increases as more time passes without any clues as to where they may have gone.
As the days pass, Matthew and Catherine’s marriage becomes more strained, and Catherine begins to turn to other men for sexual fulfillment. She makes passes at the investigator and one of the young men who slept with Lily. Reminders of her own troubled past as a teenager haunt her. When she finds a scrapbook created by Lily with erotic poetry and pictures of men with whom she’s had relationships, she grows increasingly concerned that she’ll never see Lily again. The police find Tom’s cap in the desert, but their efforts come up short trying to find the boy.
Matthew becomes impatient with the lack of progress and sets out on his own to find Tom. He spends a couple days searching in the opposite direction of the police and ends up finding his son lying near death on the scorched desert floor. Their only hope to find Lily now relies on Tom and whether or not he’s reveal the truth about what happened to his sister.
STRANGERLAND tries to explore the dysfunctional family dynamic under the guise of a mysterious missing person’s drama. The heart of it has less to do with children running away than it does with the problems afflicting their parents’ marriage. Plenty of attention is drawn to Catherine and Matthew’s loveless relationship, but it’s clear they once were happy a long time ago. They both seem obsessed by illicit sex. Tom and Lily clearly hate their parents, but no real reason for their feelings is given. Why they ran away is every bit as mysterious as what actually happens to Lily in the end. Viewers are left scratching their heads, not only at the ambiguous final moments of the movie, but also at the ambiguous character motivations. In an effort to keep viewers guessing, the characters are weakened by little development or explanation for their decisions. Finally, the ending is too ambiguous and unsatisfying.
Dysfunctional relationships and sexual immorality play key roles in STRANGERLAND. Lily, a 15-year-old girl, already has a reputation for sexual immorality and sleeping with any man she desires. Her misbehavior is a bad role model for her younger brother, Tom, who’s beginning to follow in his sister’s rebellious footsteps. He’s prone to disobeying his parents, smoking, and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Although the parents love their children and try to raise them right, they’ve allowed their marriage to deteriorate. Their marital problems have a profound affect on the children. Further evidence of this rears its ugly head when Catherine tries to cheat on her husband in her desperate state, giving viewers a glimpse of her own deviant past.
All in all, STRANGERLAND is a failed drama with excessive immoral content that’s not resolved in a satisfying, uplifting manner.
(PaPa, FRFR, OO, B, LLL, VV, SSS, NNN, AA, DD, MM) Strong pagan worldview where many characters don’t operate under moral standards and seek their own pleasure above all else, false occult content where an older woman is said to have used the power of the “rainbow serpent” to find missing people in the past, some light moral content during search for missing children; at least 26 obscenities and profanities with three of the obscenities written, middle finger gesture used once; strong violence includes skinned animal carcasses hang outside of a butcher shop, man beats up another man to the point of unconsciousness, nearly dead boy shown in the distance lying on the desert ground, boy lost in the desert has bad sun-damaged skin and dehydration, father has a restraining order against him from beating up a teacher who allegedly had sexual relations with his daughter, wife slaps husband’s face; a lot of strong or disturbing sexual content and references includes fornicating unmarried couple caught by child, it’s implied teenage girl had sexual relations with her teacher, descriptions of sex acts with the “f” word written on paper, it’s implied that teenage girl fornicates, married couple shown having graphic sex with clothes, wife falsely accuses her husband of inappropriately touching their daughter, married woman tries to seduce another man who puts his hands on her breasts, woman has an erotic dream with an out of focus nude woman making sex sounds, guy grabs his private parts when he talks about a teenage girl, parents get a phone call telling them their daughter is a whore, married woman kisses another man; full frontal female nudity in one scene as woman walks around nude in public, female nudity during sex, full male nudity of the backside during sex, teenage girl takes bra off showing nude back, teenage girl wears a bikini, and natural upper male nudity at a skate park; man drinks while driving, and woman drinks wine and gets mildly drunk; underage cigarette smoking in one scene, “kids on drugs” is written on the wall of a teenage hideout, drugs and drug paraphernalia sit on a table in teenage hideout, it’s implied a woman is high from taking drugs; and, father knowingly lets his children run away and lies to his wife about it, children run away from home, father is more worried about family’s reputation with strangers than the safety of his runaway children in some scenes, children hate their parents because of their dysfunctional marriage, an investigator shreds evidence in a case that might incriminate his son, man tells someone his wife left him and took their daughters, husband blames his wife’s rebellious past for their daughter’s misbehavior.
In STRANGERLAND, two troubled Australian children run away from home, and their parents are desperate to find them before the Australian outback’s scorching heat kills them. The couple reports the disappearance to the police. As the investigation unfolds, it becomes apparent their 15-year-old daughter has had sexual relations with several young men around town. They become concerned everyone will learn about their past troubles when their daughter was involved in a sex scandal with a teacher in their previous town. As the days pass, the couple’s marriage becomes even more strained.
STRANGERLAND has less to do with children running away than it does with the problems afflicting the parents’ troubled marriage. The children clearly hate their parents, but no reason is given. Viewers are left scratching their heads by the movie’s ambiguous final moments and its ambiguous character motivations. In an effort to keep viewers guessing, there’s little development or explanation for the characters’ decisions. Dysfunctional relationships and sexual immorality play key roles in the movie’s plot. STRANGERLAND is a failed, unsatisfying drama about a very dysfunctional family with excessive immoral content.