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aka - Echoes Of Paradise
Australia 1988
Directed by
Phillip Noyce
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Shadows Of The Peacock

Had this melodrama about a married woman who abandons her unfaithful husband and discovers sexual fulfilment in exotic climes  been made during the golden years of Hollywood, say with Ingrid Bergman or Deborah Kerr in the lead role we might find it charming, even brave, but in 1988 it seems awkwardly passé. That its Sirkian potential is so poorly brought off only makes matters worse.

Wendy Hughes plays Maria, the dutiful middle-class housewife and mother of three (her eldest daughter is a young Claudia Karvan in one of her earliest screen roles) who discovers that her husband (Steven Jacobs) is a serial offender in the fidelity stakes.  She goes with a friend (Peta Toppano) to Thailand where she finds love and libidinal liberation in the arms of a Balinese dancer (John Lone).

Perhaps in part the film's failure is due to its vexed production history. Originally set in Bali and, rather unfortunately, to be called 'Love On A Tourist Visa', Noyce had to rapidly transpose the film to Thailand after the Indonesian government banned all Australian media due to allegations of corruption.

Even so this doesn't explain the stiffness of the Australian-shot material with Noyce never seeming to be doing more than dutifully illustrating the uninspired and laboured script by Jan Sharp (to move the story along we even get a voice-over of Maria talking to herself), who was also executive producer  Added to this is the tourist brochure-style photography by Peter James, and generally sub-optimal  acting. Lone is quite good when he’s dancing in traditional Balinese style but the rest of the time he’s either striking would-be sexy poses or woodenly uttering Sharp’s stilted dialogue.  Not even Hughes can do much with the latter although her presence saves the film from chalk-on-the-blackboard painfulness. Throw in the typically ‘80s kitsch production values and you have a mis-fire from Phillip Noyce, a director with an admittedly up-and-down C.V..

 

 

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