14 May 2000 | Clive-Silas
Beautifully made, lyrical, erotic film
I absolutely love this truly erotic film. An exploration of the awakening of a woman's sexuality, it is beautifully filmed and acted, and has many moments of wit and humour.
Some reviewers object to the heavily laden symbolism attributed to various parts, such as the shots of the snake. Well, symbolism is part of what good writers refer to as "subtext", it isn't too often seen these days, and is at least part of an attempt to have the film say more than what the characters say to each other. This is an artistically valid thing for any film to do, and raises the level of film culture generally, if only a little.
I have yet to see anyone commenting on the superb score - this wonderful music by Rachel Portman (whose work I otherwise do not know) is a delight from start to finish, and unlike most movie music, would stand on its own as a concert piece. The main theme, quirky, cheerful and rhythmically very interesting, seems to take as its inspiration the Vaughan Williams "March of the Kitchen Utensils" heard at the very start of the film as we follow Hugh Grant's feet walking through the art gallery, but it is very much an excellent piece of music in its own right. The "Dream Variations" are suitably dreamy, and coupled with the slow motion photography make for a superb piece of cinema.
John Duigan (writer, director) is not often mentioned in the same breath as other well known Australian directors such as George Miller or Peter Weir or Bruce Beresford, but personally I think he stands up with the best of them. A true Auteur (he has scripted most of the films he has directed) his films are always very interesting character studies. A more well known recent film he made was "The Leading Man" which starred Jon Bon Jovi as an American actor who comes to London to appear in a West End Play, and is "hired" by the director to seduce his wife. As in The Leading Man, Sirens is about the interactions between characters, this providing in my view more than enough in the way of plot and sub-plot. If Duigan's films always seem to be about human sexuality, well, after all, that is what drives most human relationships, whether we want to admit it or not. I think what stands out about Duigan's films, and particularly about Sirens, is their total honesty about human sexuality, without (and I know some will disagree) being excessively prurient.
A final line - I love the helicopter shot at the very, very end of the film. It is a beautiful, painterly landscape scene (which fades out *just* too soon), but one's love of its beauty is strengthened by one's admiration of the five actresses, who had to climb to the top of this sheer-looking rocky outcrop and remove all their clothes for the shot! They have my appreciation, and my sympathy!