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DVD Review - 'The Eye of the Storm', An Exploration of Family Relationships

09/09/2013 16:27 BST | Updated 09/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Based on Patrick White's acclaimed novel, veteran Australian director, Fred Schepisi's 'The Eye of the Storm' is a savage yet darkly funny,exploration of family relationships and the sharp undercurrents of love and hate, comedy and tragedy which define them.

THE EYE OF THE STORM

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Director: Fred Schepisi Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling, Judy Davis Country of Origin: Australia 2012 Genre: Drama Age Critics Award Melbourne International Film Festival, Special Jury Prize Rome International Film Festival, Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Best Lead Actress Award Judy Davis Language: English 119 mins. Rating: ****

'The Eye of the Storm' views the 'family get-together' or is it hostage taking over English tea in sunny Sydney?

Elizabeth Hunter (Charlotte Rampling),savage, brilliant, demanding, manipulative and chillingly dominant suffers a stroke and her son and daughter are summoned to her bedside. The womanising Sir Basil (Geoffrey Rush), a famous but struggling actor in London and her impecunious and neurotic daughter Dorothy (Judy Davis) whose only asset from a failed marriage to a minor French aristocrat is the title 'Princess' are united in a common goal - to leave Australia with their inheritance. They need the money. Nothing else would have drawn them back to their toxic past.

In the vast and claustrophobic Sydney house two nurses, Flora (Alexandra Schepisi) and Mary (Maria Theodorakis), a housekeeper, Lotte (Helen Morse) and the family lawyer Arnold Wyburd (John Gaden),a man long in love with the eccentric matriarch attend to her every need. It's all wonderfully dysfunctional and Basil and Dorothy's attempts to reconcile with their mother only reduces them to floundering adolescents.

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Desperation rapidly sets in as Elizabeth Hunter succumbs to morphine-fuelled flashbacks.This eccentric world is ending and Basil and Dorothy are tortured by suspicions of what to expect in the will. What to do? Enlist the reluctant services of the family lawyer and scheme to place their mother in a society nursing home.

Families will be families!

The performances are excellent. Charlotte Rampling, is chillingly ice cold as the slowly dying matriarch humiliating her children and denying them love. Geoffrey Rush, the faded actor living on past critical acclaim and Judy Davis as Dorothy, the tragic daughter craving her mother's love carry the hurt of their toxic past. Helen Morse is wonderful bizarre as the over-the-top European refugee housekeeper who enacts 30s Berlin cabaret for Madame. It's a crazy destructive dysfunctional household that you can't help but grin at.

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'The Eye of the Storm' is a savage, darkly funny exploration of family relationships and is faithful to the novel but you've got to stick with it. At times it needs more energy and the narrative can be a bit plodding. Be patient and stick with it.

UK DVD release: 16th September 2013