Meredith is a 35 year-old unmarried woman who arrives at a remote lighthouse island 1928 with her uncle the new head keeper.
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Take nine rather unpleasant people who treat each other badly, put themon a small, desolate, windswept island and you should have the makingsof a film that even Ingmar Burgman would find tedious Shirley Barrett,who seems to have a predilection for making films about unattractivepeople, manages to turn these ingredients into an elegy to "hope".Hope, you may be aware, is a member of the trilogy of eternal virtuesthat can redeem the lives of people who refuse to succumb to feelingsof self-loathing and despair.The other two eternal virtues are faith and love, and if I have acriticism of this film, it is that Barrett does not allow the last twohumans standing on the island to consummate their growing mutualattraction, at least within the confines of the film The prop she usesto make this believable is the lighthouse they manage to keepilluminated, shining in the darkness of the surrounding stormy sea Miranda Otto gives us a grown-up reprise of the character she createdin Barrett's first film, "Love Serenade"Marton Csokas crafts his performance as a World War I shell-shock,neurotic so organically that we can believe his stilted overtures togreater intimacy at the end of the filmBarry Otto's light house keeper has taken a different route to dealingwith the moral void uncovered by the evil and stupidity of World War I.He too has been damaged by the experience, but instead of succumbing tothe numbing silence of Csokas, he has embraced a near militaryconformity to the idea of the benign authority of human institutions,all appearances to the contrary. It is a mark of Barrett's skill as awriter-director, that she allows his niece to acknowledge his care forher when she had attracted the disapproval of polite society.Barett has crafted a small, quietly spoken, life affirming film thatdraws the viewer into the lives of its protagonists and leaves themfeeling richer for the experience.
D and I watched this terrific film yesterday afternoon and we bothshared similar thoughts about its quality. This film, about a youngwoman sent with her administrative uncle to "clean up" the operation ofa very remote lighthouse is truly an iconic Australian film. I amreasonably familiar with the world's cinema and can therefore(modestly) make judgments about the types of film produced by variouscountries and South Solitary is a movie that is Australian through andthrough. Our movies are gutsy, perhaps rough, slice-of-life movies. Thebig budget Hollywood types (like Australia) are exceptions to this ruleand do not easily sit well with the norm or at least the norm as I seeit. Films like Japanese Story, Jindabyne, Oyster Farmer, Beautiful Kateand Last Ride are just a few of the many introspective movies that ourfilm industry produces and that Diane and I anticipate eagerly and nowwe can add South Solitary to this list of, dare I say, brilliantmovies. I know of no other country that produces films of this nature;films that are strangely uplifting in their context. The film's ending,with no Hollywood tears, is perfect. See this film and do not judge itby the standards for which we have been smothered by a foreign culture.South Solitary is rich with feelings that all of us can recognize and Iwould unconditionally recommend it.