Sirens (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|If you are reading my reviews,
you are probably interested in the general topic of
movies, and in the more specific area of film nudity.
Those of us with these common interests have often moaned, "why can't a movie with plenty of nudity and/or sex also be a watchable movie?"
Doesn't happen very often, does it? There's your "Basic Instinct", and then ......
|Then there's the Aussie flick, "Sirens".
It would be an interesting flick without the nudity. Sam Neill, as a hedonistic life-embracing painter goes head-to-head with Hugh Grant, as a self-absorbed and condescending young pastor out to change the painter's mind about an exhibition. Beautiful photography of a semi-tropical area of the antipodes, lots of local color, and generally interesting and wry filmmaking.
The story is based on the life of a real painter, Norman Lindsay, and the film was photographed on the actual Lindsay estate. The link in the previous sentence is an excellent web site about Lindsay's work and the place where he lived. The painting to the left is Lindsay's "The End of War", a 1924 watercolor. The film tries to maintain the vivid look and feel of Lindsay's own paintings, but the incidents in the movie are completely fictitious.
I love the local newspapers that they keep showing, which only feature stories about people dying from attacks by sharks, spiders, and snakes. Apparently, no Australians ever died of natural causes in those days. The whole newspaper gag is just a throwaway. You barely notice it when you're watching, but it's a good example of the humor and attention to detail.
|And then there's the nudity. Five luscious
women (and one very buff guy) filmed full frontal, in
bright light, in focus. And we're not talking about
obscure women or skanks here. We're talking Portia
DeRossi, Elle Macpherson, Kate Fischer, and Tara
Fitzgerald as four of the five. (The other woman is
obscure, and not so young, but generously endowed.)
I have to say that on a scale of 1 to 100, rating beautiful nudity from famous women in non-sex movies, this is 100. "Sirens" is the Holy Grail of naked famous women.
|The contextual justification for the nudity is that the
women who model for Lindsay are indeed the Sirens, both
literally and figuratively. They are posing as the classical sirens
in a Lindsay painting, but they are also luring the visiting parson and his wife into a more sensuous and warmer
attitude toward life. In fact, to maintain the classical siren
motif, the girls even sing together in one scene. The
preacher shows some inclination toward one of the girls,
but basically lashes himself to the mast of his religious
convictions. Although our Odysseus is not seduced, his
lovely wife is, succumbing to the charms of a local
handyman/model, and warming up to new ideas in general.
The film implies that this made her love her husband
more, not less, and he seems to understand that, despite
his eternally tight sphincter.
By the way, superduperhypermodel Elle Macpherson does a competent turn as one of the models. She gained thirty pounds to make her slim frame earthier, and is basically asked to play the part of a sexy and uncomplicated Aussie girl, a role for which she is obviously qualified. Director John Duigan did an excellent job at casting and using his actors. Hugh Grant is excellent as the intelligent but immature parson filled with false modesty and condescension, a part for which Grant obviously brings impressive qualifications. (Could they ever have considered anyone else for the part?)
John Duigan has had some disappointing outings in his
last two films ("Molly", and
"Paranoid"), but his work in the early 90's had
a remarkable blend of intellect, flair, and sensuousness
is also his.). That promises some more fine
entertainment for us soon. I hope. I want to think that
"Paranoid" was just a huge aberration in his career.
If St Peter asks my opinion, as he so often does, Duigan gets into heaven just on the basis of "Sirens" alone. Although, frankly, we're gonna miss this horny bastard down in hell.
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