Beautiful Kate


Directed by: Rachel Ward
Written by:Rachel Ward
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Bryan Brown, Rachel Griffiths, Sophie Lowe, Scott O’Donnell
Released: August 6, 2009
Grade: C+

It’s been a huge year for Australian cinema in terms of both quality and quantity.  By my count, Beautiful Kate is the 12th Aussie film to be released here in Brisbane in the past four months.  The list includes Samson & Delilah, My Year Without Sex and Mary & Max.

Maybe I’m tiring of the deep, dark Australian film because I wasn’t overly impressed with Beautiful Kate.  It’s one of those stories about a family with long held, well guarded secrets and as the film progresses, it all comes out into the open and conflict ensues.  I feel like I’ve seen this kind of movie too many times before in recent years and this didn’t offer anything new.  I haven’t read Newton Thornburg’s novel, on which the film is based, but I’m sure there’s a lot more depth.

That’s not to say that the film doesn’t explore some intriguing issues.  In fact, it’s quite confronting in places when we finally learn the truth.  I can’t say too much more than that but do tread carefully with this one.  It’s not exactly for everyone.

It begins with Ned (Mendelsohn) going on a road trip with his girlfriend to visit his dying father (Brown).  He lives in a remote part of Australia and has been cared for by Ned’s younger sister, Sally (Griffiths).  Ned hasn’t seen his father in many years.  He fled home as a teenager following the death of his twin sister and older brother.  It’s a past he has not wanted to revisit.

If you ask me, none of these characters found redemption.  Maybe that’s the point of it all.  I don’t know.  Why was Ned neglecting his girlfriend?  Why did he spend so much time writing down his memories?  I don’t know either.  All these people gave off a “coldness” and I didn’t feel any compassion for them and their problems.

The cast is strong with Ben Medelsohn, Rachel Griffiths and Bryan Brown but as I’ve alluded to, the script isn’t up to scratch.  It’s another Aussie release that despite good intentions, will struggle at the box office.