A Fine Affair

The suds are light and deep in the dolled-up soap Lantana

Australian director Ray Lawrence (best known here for the quirky 1985 comedy Bliss) provides some high-toned soap opera nicely flavored with a touch of suspense and some well-timed jolts of humor. Playwright Andrew Bovell's busy, busy screenplay is crammed with philandering police detectives, grief-stricken psychoanalysts, traumatized gay men, gloomy husbands and alienated teen-agers, but the filmmakers manage to bind their untidy package of seemingly unrelated characters and boiling subplots together through the mystery of one woman's disappearance. The talented ensemble cast includes veteran tough guy Anthony LaPaglia, Aussie superstar Geoffrey Rush, Kerry Armstrong and the re-emergent Barbara Hershey, among others. From many telling moments Lawrence constructs a teeming pastiche of human foibles that proves terrifically entertaining by the end.

 
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