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Festivale Winter 1997
Movie Poster, The Well, Festivale film review Well, Well

Australian Rural Gothic with a few interesting icky twists …

I've got to be honest. Elizabeth Jolley isn't one of my favourite authors. I'm more your Hunter S. Thompson- Harlan Ellison - Kathy Acker - S.J. Perelman type. Stories about neurotic women of a certain age aren't really my stein of Dogbolter. The Well, based on Jolley's Miles Franklin Award winning novel, is one of those slow moving, symbolism drenched, ambient movies - Australian rural gothic with a few interesting icky twists; but not enough of them to make the experience worthwhile. logo
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Hester (Pamela Rabe) brings Katherine (Miranda Otto) to her isolated country house to help out around the house. Hester's led a repressed life looking after her aged and invalid father (Frank Wilson) and Kathy's a breath of fresh air for her.Hester's father dies and the two women begin to spend Hester's inheritance to the point where they sell the farm and move into an isolated cottage on the edge of the property. With a large cash fund, the two live a peaceful life for a time. One night after a local dance, Kathy hits a man with their truck and everything descends into madness.

This is an atmospheric movie, the kind of flick that's made for film festivals rather than a mass audience. Lots of facial close ups of the two women looking around themselves at nothing in particular. The symbolism, of the well in particular, itself is pretty blatant. While Jolley's characteristic obliqueness might work for some in novel form, it makes for annoying cinema. As a one hour ABC television production, The Wellmight've worked. As a feature length film, it doesn't.

Terry Frost

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Just the facts:

Title: The Well
Written by: Laura Jones
Directed by: Samantha Lang.

The Players: Pamela Rabe, Miranda Otto.
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