The Eye of the Storm – review

The acting's great - but there's a smaller, fiercer movie trying to burst out of this drama about a tyrannical woman on her deathbed

Somewhere inside this baggy, stately, beautifully acted movie there's something smaller and fiercer busting to get out.

Veteran film-maker Fred Schepisi has directed an adaptation of the 1973 novel by Australian Nobel laureate Patrick White. Charlotte Rampling cuts a Miss Havisham-type figure as Elizabeth Hunter, a brilliant and demanding woman slowly dying – and succumbing to morphine-fuelled flashbacks – as she summons her grownup children to her elaborately furnished Sydney home to impose her caprices on them one final time, torturing them with suspicions about what they can expect in her will.

Her putative heirs – to her neurotic personality, if not necessarily her cash – are the successful and conceited stage actor Basil, played by Geoffrey Rush, and the unhappy Dorothy (Judy Davis), still addressed as "Princesse" after a failed marriage to some European aristocrat.

Dorothy seems unable to imagine any future other than the desperately needed bequest, but the ageing lothario Basil has his eyes on Elizabeth's sexy nurse, Flora, well played by Alexandra Schepisi, daughter of Fred. The movie proceeds at a measured and reverent pace, a little unfocused, but with intelligent performances from three heavyweight acting talents.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Book Thief review – 'Strange and saccharine'
Based on the bestseller by Markus Zusak, this film looks like a creepy new version of the Anne Frank story, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

28, Feb, 2014 @11:18 AM

Article image
The Daughter first look review – Simon Stone's striking bloodline squabble
The writer-director returns to The Wild Duck for his lush, moody feature debut, reconfiguring Ibsen with sublime production values and a pedigree cast

Luke Buckmaster

05, Jun, 2015 @5:15 AM

Article image
Gods of Egypt review – bizarre fantasy loses its way among the digital crowds
Alex Proyas’s pec-strewn ancient vision powers up with absurdity then falls to earth with flimsiness

Peter Bradshaw

16, Jun, 2016 @10:00 PM

Play – review
Based on a real-life case of bullying, this film's cat-and-mouse game sparked debate in Sweden for its powerful message, writes Henry Barnes

Henry Barnes

11, Jul, 2013 @7:25 PM

Article image
Beauty – review

Deon Lotz gives a ferociously powerful central performance in this tragic South African movie, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

19, Apr, 2012 @9:09 PM

Article image
Theorem – review
Maybe Pasolini's playful fable of ideas is the great director's attempt to put a bomb under Italy's stagnant governing class, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

11, Apr, 2013 @9:20 PM

Bonsái – review
Christián Jiménez's second feature could be quirky but is instead a crisp, subtle drama on the life and loves of an aspiring writer, writes Phil Hoad

Phil Hoad

29, Mar, 2012 @8:40 PM

Article image
Rebellion – review

Mathieu Kassowitz, as star and director, is front and centre of this account of an unfortunate 1980s French colonial intervention, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

18, Apr, 2013 @9:20 PM

Article image
Tabu – review
An elegant, Africa-set melodrama isn't just for cinephiles, says Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

06, Sep, 2012 @8:31 PM

Article image
Pieta – review
Though no masterpiece, Kim Ki-duk's tale of redemption bristles with the Korean film-maker's trademark anger and agony, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

05, Sep, 2013 @9:30 PM