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Australia 1993
Directed by
Gillian Armstrong
113 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Last Days Of Chez Nous

There is a forced quality to Gillian Armstrong’s direction that keeps The Last Days Of Chez Nous from achieving the poignancy it might have otherwise had. One assumes a good deal of autobiographical material has gone into Helen Garner’s story of Beth (Lisa Harrow), a middle-aged writer living a bohemian lifestyle in inner-city Sydney with her lover (Bruno Ganz) and daughter (Miranda Otto) and, kicking off the film, her sister (Kerry Fox) who has returned from overseas and a unhappy romance

If Garner’s screenplay at times tends to have an overly literary tone with the characters tossing off archly gnomic utterances, overall she manages to lay out an economical portrait of changing relationships. However under Armstrong’s heavy hand it all feels unrealistic and oddly disconnected (no-one’s life extends significantly beyond “Chez Nous”) with the fun-loving antics of the householders coming across as something out of an MTV video, whilst the shots of Sydney’s skyline and even a trip to the Outback with Beth’s gruff old dad (Bill Hunter doing what Bill Hunter does) overplay the “Australian” card. Within these parameters, the performers do a commendable job but they cannot break out of the contrivance that Garner and Armstrong have constructed.

DVD Extras: Audio commentary by Gillian Armstrong and producer Jan Chapman; Interviews with cast and crew; theatrical trailer.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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