1950s, a very small town somewhere in regional Victoria. Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), a glamorous dressmaker, returns to town, twenty-five years after she was taken away as a child for killing another child. She doesn’t remember, and feels cursed, so has come back to her mother, Mad Molly (Judy Davis) to learn the truth. Molly doesn’t remember her, but the rest of the town does, and she is hated. But when she transforms mousey Gertrude Pratt (Sarah Snook) into a gorgeous apparition with a fabulous dress, the townsfolk are forced to reassess.
I loved this film. I’d been terribly concerned from the trailers that I’d seen it all – the trailer certainly seemed to reveal an awful lot. And it all seemed to be going exactly where I expected it to go until BAM! About two-thirds of the way through the film, my heart was torn from my chest and everything went a totally different direction.
The cast is fabulous, most notably the always wonderful Kate Winslet, Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis. The costumes, as was necessary, were stunning. And the direction and cinematography; wonderful. It had all the quirk that I do love in an Aussie flick, but with powerful heart and, oh. I just loved it.
Nick Caraway (Tobey Maguire) decides in the boom of the 1920s to become a trader in New Work, taking a small house in Long Island. He soon becomes lured into the wild, decadent life of his neighbour, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). In the spin of things are his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton).
The idea of Baz Luhrmann making the film got me quite excited – it really needs the lavish touch that only Baz can bring. I had been concerned that some of the deeper moments may be lost – especially as I’d heard on the grapevine that the film was only about glitz and glamour and lost the key themes. I must read the book again, but for me it worked beautifully as is. I must keep my eyes open for if it gets re-screened in 3D. I’d like to see that, especially the tracking shots through the amazing parties.
Kate Grenville wrote Lillian’s Story in 1985, based loosely on an eccentric woman who roamed the streets of Sydney. It tells the story of Lillian through three key stages of her life; as a child growing up with an abusive father, a reclusive mother and a brother always trying to hide; as a young woman struggling through the social niceties of a polite society within which she does not belong and finding her way through university whilst still dealing with her family; and as an elderly woman trying to find meaning to her life after forty years in an asylum. Lillian eventually finds happiness living on the street with a friend from her youth, entertaining and shocking people with her recitations from Shakespeare.
It was a very hard book to read. Told from the perspective of Lillian, it seems that she takes pride in being different and not fitting in, but the hurt of the rejection and abuse that she suffers cuts as deep as if it were happening to me. I can’t say I enjoyed the book, but it has stayed with me, and I will make sure I read the other two books based around characters from Lillian’s Story.
The film was made in 1996 and has a wonderful Australian cast; Ruth Cracknell plays the older Lillian, whilst Toni Collette plays her in her late teens/early twenties; Barry Otto plays her father and the older version of her brother; and John Flaus plays Frank. I wonder how anyone who has not read the book would see the film. It is always difficult to take a whole novel and squeeze it into ninety minutes or so, especially a film such as this with so many, varied scenes.
The film starts as Lil is being released from the asylum and discovering what has happened in the world. As she finds her place, she has flashbacks to key events of the past. Having read the books recently, I really noticed what was missing more than what was included; there was none of her early days, almost nothing of her mother, one of the loves of her life wasn’t there and many of the relationships were not explained. On top of this, a feature of the book is that Lil is fat – she deliberately makes herself fat as a child and never loses the weight, and it is commented on by many around her. But this is nowhere in the film.
I feel that it is a good film, but not for people who have actually read the book. However, it is not a film that very many people who have not read the book would ever watch. What a dilemma. If you have the option, I’d say read it.