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:: Beautiful Kate

Director, Rachel Ward takes a huge step up in her directing career with a magnificent adaption of Newtown Thornberg’s novel. Ward has made this film an absolute classic; playing out like an American Indie film, ‘Beautiful Kate’ has the power to both shock and enthrall its audience.

The film tells the story of Ned Kendall (Ben Mendelsohn), a middle-aged writer who returns to the outback homestead he grew up in, when his younger sister, Sally (Rachel Griffiths) invites him back to see his father, Bruce (Bryan Brown) who is close to death. Ned turns up with his 21-year-old fiancée, Toni (Maeve Dermody) who stumbles upon a diary that asks some serious questions about the death of Ned’s twin Kate (Sophie Lowe). Sally throws a further spanner in the works when she decides to take a break, leaving Ned with his father… two men who simply don’t get along.

‘Beautiful Kate’ is an amazing film that simply doesn’t hold back. This isn’t the ‘nice’ Australian drama that many would expect it to be, instead it takes on a storyline that even Larry Clarke would be proud of. This experience is enhanced by the fact that Rachel Ward is a natural storyteller. Her script and directing-style allows this drama to play out with some elements of a mystery. What happened to the character of Kate is a mystery in itself and Ward (to her credit) keeps the audience (and most of the characters) guessing until the very moment she is ready to do the ‘reveal’. The brilliant thing about this is there is no possible way the audience can pre-empt what the answer is going to be. The fact that Ward manages to mix this storyline while spectacularly capturing the beauty of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges is a sign that we have stumbled upon a very special director indeed.

Also enhancing this twisted tale are a cast that simply doesn’t have a weak link. As you would expect Bryan Brown, Ben Mendelsohn and Rachel Griffiths are at the top of their games, and they are well supported by newcomer, Sophie Lowe and Maeve Dermody is takes a huge step up from her effort in ‘Black Water’. Lowe and Dermody really deserve a mention as both pull-of very difficult roles with skills that show they are actresses with skills well beyond their years.

The story told in ‘Beautiful Kate’ isn’t going to be everybody’s cup-of-tea but it certainly is well worth a look. This is a family-mystery in its purist form and is easily one of the best films to be released this year. Even though it does consist of a lot of ‘talking-heads’ scenes it keep the audience interested and showcases the work of one of Australia’s finest directors.