Country Life (1995)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 28, 1995 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Australia   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Among the many virtues of writer/director/actor Michael Blakemore's film "suggested by Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya," is the way it captures a sense of yearning among all of its major characters. The axis on which nearly everyone's emotions turn is Alexander Voysey (Blakemore), a self-centered literary critic who has conveniently lived in England supported by the labors of his brother-in-law, Jack Dickens (John Hargreaves), and Voysey's abandoned daughter, Sally (Kerry Fox). His arrival at their New South Wales farm in 1919, with the Great War just concluded and Australia poised to examine its place in the British Commonwealth, unlooses plenty of passion as well as pent-up resentment and longing. Jack hates Alexander for his dilettantish ways but is instantly smitten by the old man's luminous young bride, Deborah (Greta Scaachi), who is in turn attracted to the local physician, Max Askey (Sam Neill), who is himself the object of Sally's long-held affections. Sally tries in vain to connect with a father she has never known, trying to give him the benefit of her well-placed doubts. Blakemore plays this for broad comedy as well as heart-rending drama, and when things threaten to get a little turgid, Hannah (Googie Withers), the farm's tart-tongued maid, lays down the law. Hargreaves and Blakemore play their roles broadly, while the women are more understated, especially Fox, who never disappoints. Neill is fine as the prototypical Australian male loner who even bucks the local sentiment by attacking Britain for luring Australia into the war.