Alistair Harkness gives his verdict on character drama The Eye Of The Storm, starring Charlotte Rampling and Geoffrey Rush.
Synopsis: A wealthy, elderly matriarch attempts to influence her dysfunctional family, while dealing with the inevitability of death.
Age rating: 15
Running time: 119 min
Directed by: Fred Schepisi
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Alexandra Schepisi
Charlotte Rampling, Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis are fighting a losing battle to inject some life into this adaptation of Australian Nobel Laureate Patrick White’s acclaimed 1973 novel about a dying matriarch and the malicious grip she exerts on her spoiled, grown-up children.
Though all three get a chance to exhibit some delightfully abhorrent behaviour, veteran director Fred Schepisi, who made similarly soporific work of Graham Swift’s Booker-winning Last Orders, can’t seem to get out of the way of White’s magnificent characters, suffocating them with a surfeit of subplots, when the film really screams out for a more focused, chamber-piece style approach.
Rampling’s barbarous performance as an about-to-expire guardian of great family wealth certainly has the potential for plenty of emotional and psychological vindictiveness as she drifts in and out of a Lear-like fog of confusion.
But too often interest in her motives dissipates, even as she’s riling her actor son (Rush) and embittered daughter (Davis) by palming off the family heirlooms to her staff (some of whom aren’t as trustworthy as she thinks).
For their parts, Rush and Davis make a good show of playing unlikable people still bearing the scars of a monstrous mother, but the film itself would have benefited from being nastier and less reverential.