DRAMA; 1hr 59min
STARRING: Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Charlotte Rampling
Lady gaga: Rush and Rampling
Sydney, 1972: Elizabeth Hunter (Rampling) is bedridden and dying and her grown children, Dorothy and Basil (Davis and Rush), have flown from Europe to be with her. Sir Basil is a playwright and actor, Dorothy a Paris-based princess. For her part, Elizabeth is loaded and exploits those around her with the reflexive imperiousness of entitlement. Cared for in her Centennial Park mansion by day-and-night nurses, she drifts through a mental melding of past and present in bewigged and rapidly decaying splendour. Her children — who in truth aren’t travelling as well as they could be — tut-tut the expense, but their mother isn’t about to relinquish her hold.
Director Fred Schepisi steers his adaptation of Nobel laureate Patrick White’s 1973 novel through gilded surfaces into dank and uncertain depths. Worms slither through luxuriant gardens. Cracks are evident in baronial walls. And while never as witty, sharp or moving as it deserves to be, with a cast of this calibre, stock themes of greed and betrayal become a wistful evocation of the things that fall away.