Beautiful Kate (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/07/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Beautiful Kate is engaging, strikingly shot and superbly acted, though the melodramatic and ultimately predictable plot feels a little overblown at times.

What's it all about?
Directed by actress-turned-filmmaker Rachel Ward, Beautiful Kate is set in the present-day Australian outback and stars Ben Mendelsohn as Ned Kendall, a writer who returns to his family home in order to reconcile with his dying father, Bruce (Bryan Brown). However, Ned brings his sexy young financée Toni (Maeve Dermody) along for the ride and her presence only serves to exacerbate the already palpable tension between Ned, Bruce and Ned's younger sister, Sally (Rachel Griffiths).

Meanwhile, Ned finds himself haunted by memories of his father's previously violent behaviour and of his own extremely close relationship with his twin sister Kate (Eve Burner, then Sophie Lowe) and it soon becomes clear that her early death is somehow connected to the death of Ned's older brother Cliff (Daniel Binks, then Josh McFarlane). As the flashbacks come thick and fast, Ned begins to write down his memories, but that backfires when Toni finds the manuscript and is horrified by what she reads.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Mendelsohn, whose haunted, droopy-faced presence is surprisingly engaging. Bryan Brown is suitably chilling as Ned's monstrous father and there's equally strong support from Sophie Lowe and Maeve Dermody, though Rachel Griffiths is slightly under-used. The film is strikingly shot by Andrew Commis and the intense, suffocating atmosphere is heightened by the use of tight close-ups combined with the bleakness of the middle-of-nowhere setting.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the script slides a little too far into melodrama and becomes predictable as a result - you'll spot the supposedly shocking plot developments coming a mile away. Similarly, the relationship between Ned and Toni doesn't quite ring true – you can see why they might have hooked up in the first place (to the script's credit, no one actually points out that Toni is very similar to Kate), but their engagement seems less than likely on several counts.

Worth seeing?
Beautiful Kate is an engaging, well made drama with terrific performances from a strong cast, though the overly melodramatic plot ultimately diminishes its emotional impact.

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Content updated: 17/10/2017 06:39

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