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Strangerland - Australian-Irish psychological drama that leaves you hanging

"Strangerland" is a 2015 Australian-Irish drama film directed by Kim Farrant, starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, and Hugo Weaving. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015 and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

 

"Strangerland" is Nicole Kidman's first starring role in an independent Australian film since 1989 "Dead Calm" the breakthrough movie and role that put her on the map. Over the course of many years and all the different roles she played, Nicole consistently surprises us - the audience, not only with her acting skills but also with the profound commitment she puts into delivering such amazing characters to life. She truly is one of the best actresses alive.

 

 

Strangerland is no different for Nicole. Once again she proves she is not scared to visit dark places to explore the disturbing psychology of her character. 

 

 

She plays a wife and mother devastated by the disappearance of her two teenage children from the middle of nowhere desert town. She and her husband Matthew Parker ( played by Joseph Fiennes) move with their children Lily (played by Maddison Brown) and Tom ( played by Nicholas Hamilton) to the Australian desert town of Nathgari. The family is unhappy with the move, and blame Lily for forcing them to leave their home in Coonaburra. The reason why remains untold during the first half of the movie. 

 

 

Tom has a tendency to walk around the neighborhood when he has trouble sleeping, and this is something that his parents disapprove of. One night, Matthew sees Tom leaving the house followed by his sister Lily. Being half-asleep he says nothing at goes back to bed. The next morning, when Catherine ( Nicole Kidman) wakes up and can't find the kids, she immediately starts worrying, calling Mattew at work asking him if he knows anything. He reassures her that because she overslept, they are probably already at school. The drama starts when she finds out that they haven't attended classes that day and they are nowhere to be found. Although her husband tells her to not call the police because he fears them finding out the real reason for their move, she just can't help it and is desperate for help. The police arrive and while they are taking the report, Detective David Rae (played by Hugo Weaving) finds out that this is not the first time Lily has disappeared. 

 

 

Catherine and Mattew don't want to reveal the reason for their daughter's previous disappearance telling the detective that they overreacted and reported her missing, but soon she was found and a friend's house. After further investigation, Detective Rae discovers that one of Lily's teachers in Coonaburra had sex with her. With Lily being underage, when Mattew found out he attacked Lily's teacher, Neil McPherson (played by Martin Dingle Wall). The outcome of the attack is Mattew getting a restraining order and being forced to move with his family to Nathgari in order to protect them from all the attention around Lily and her teacher. 

 

 

As Rae continues with his investigation, he finds everything about Lily's past in Coonaburra, particularly her multiple sex relationships despite her being underage. Parallel to Rae's investigation, Catherine finds Lily's diary and reluctantly starts to read. The contents of the diary shock her. It is full of hyper-sexualized imagery of McPhearson, the family's handyman Burtie and a local boy named Slug. Catherine decides to give the diary to Detective Rae but under one condition, he can't reveal the contents of the diary to her husband. 

 

 

Matthew and Rae both continue with investigating, and questioning everyone they think is involved. From threatening McPhearson again to speaking with Burtie, arresting Slug, they have no luck in finding the kids. The people in town decide to organize a search party, and when Mattew drives into the desert alone, he finds Tom dehydrated and delirious. He eventually tells Catherine and Mattew that he only saw Lily getting into a car and driving away. 

 

 

After all their secrets being revealed despite the family's efforts to start fresh, the story ends up not revealing Lily's fate. However, "Strangerland" beautifully represents the emotions of the parents and their struggles in the most horrific situations, and that being losing your kids.

 

 

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