Due to my imaginary love affair with Hugh Jackman, there was never any doubt that I was going to watch this film. I couldn’t drag anyone to the cinema to go and see it so had to be content with the DVD. So I set aside some time to watch this epic film. When I first put it on, I was beginning to think that I’d put the wrong film on – yes, the narrator was talking about Australia, but where were Hugh and Nicole? Plus the tone of the film seemed, well, playful, whereas I was thinking it would be romantic. Regardless, I carried on watching. The storyline came along soon enough, it had just been setting up some backstory.
My first reaction when Nicole Kidman appeared on screen as Lady Sarah Ashley was mild amusement – the clothing, hairstyle, make-up and posh accent were so perfectly “English Lady” that you could easily forget she’s actually Australian. For some reason, I was expecting her character to be Australian in the film which threw me somewhat, but everything become clear soon enough.
The basic plot is Lady Sarah Ashley’s husband is living and working in Australia on a cattle ranch. Understandably his wife is a bit miffed that her husband lives on the other side of the world and she wants to sell the land so he can come home. Getting to the end of her tether, Lady Sarah heads out there only to find (spoiler!) on her arrival that her husband is dead. Still determined to go through with the sale, everything changes when she finds out that there are people determined to see the ranch fail and be sold to the local monopoly-craving, money-grabbing businessman. Feisty Lady Ashley decides she’s going to keep the land, but after sacking the underhanded manager she finds herself lacking in staff. She knows just the man for the job, but unfortunately it’s The Drover (Hugh Jackman) and he works purely on a commission basis as a drover, unwilling to be hired or fired by anyone.
The action continues as Lady Sarah tries hard to persuade The Drover to work for her and not have to sell to King Carney (played by Bryan Brown). All the while there are subplots going on which all tie fabulously together. I do agree with some of the reviews I’ve read that the film doesn’t really fit neatly into a genre, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a bad thing – surely it just widens its audience? The film wasn’t what I expected but I really enjoyed it nevertheless. It’s great to see how Kidman’s character changes throughout, and the role of independent man’s man The Drover seemed made for Jackman (thinking about who the director is, I’d say it probably was!) – including some of the dry quips we’ve become so used to when he’s in the role of Wolverine.
Overall, I think the DVD cover doesn’t do the film any favours as it will send many men running for the hills at the prospect of being forced to sit through another soppy love story. But I have to say, there’s so much more to the film than that, there’s plenty of action, scandal, humour and chemistry to keep most film lovers entertained. But I do place special emphasis on Jackman fans, particularly those of the female or homosexual type – he is at his hottest in this!