6 December 2002 | JuguAbraham
Australian cinema personalities rarely sparkle in America
Australian director Gillian Armstrong makes great films with strong women characters--her earlier Australian film "My brilliant career" being a perfect example. I watched "Mrs. Soffel" because of my admiration for Armstrong and found that "Mrs. Soffel" could not hold a candle to "My brilliant career" even though American actress Diane Keaton was admirable compared to the Australian actresses in the latter.
Armstrong had the talented Australian cinematographer Russel Boyd (who was responsible for the seminal works of Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford) once again to work with. While Armstrong and Boyd used justifiably darkened interior shots, I had problems seeing anything for long periods and had to rely on the soundtrack!
Armstrong loves to develop the female characters but leaves the male characters totally undeveloped (Mr Soffel and Jack Biddle). This is one reason I prefer the works of Weir and Beresford over Armstrong--even though her latent talent cannot be ignored. It is amazing to see Soffel's daughter getting equal or more prominence in the script than Mr Soffel towards the end.
Mel Gibson has made a name for himself by directing "Braveheart," but I give more credence to his acting phase in Australia ("Tim", "Mad Max", etc.). I am convinced that he is a director's actor--doing well with good directors. In "Mrs Soffel" Armstrong has evidently invested time with Diane Keaton, who carries the film. Gibson only lends support to her thanks more to the script than his acting capabilities.
Most of the fine tribe of Australian filmmakers of the Seventies have drifted to the US to become richer and gain international recognition--but their work in Australia in the Seventies remains unsurpassed.