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Australian filmmaker Fred Schepisi is a sturdy helmsman for this tale of family dysfunction, resentment and longed-for, hard-fought inheritance.

One of the prized offerings at last autumn’s Australian Film Festival finally making its big screen bow over here, The Eye Of The Storm is both mature and sombre.

Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis are grown up children who return to attend their monied dying mother Elizabeth’s (Charlotte Rampling) last days, not so much to share her final earthly moments, reminisce and share pleasantries, but to ensure their varying estrangement does not deprive them of their inheritance. 

Rush and Davis excel in their roles as the resentment-filled offspring, Rush’s Basil an actor who’s success treading the boards carries little weight with his mother, and Dorothy a high society darling who has her very own reasons for being less than wholly enamoured with mummy. 

It is Rampling that impresses most, though. Elizabeth’s commanding poise and composure, not to mention her sharp-tongued and acidic treatment of those around her, makes a formidable matriarch and domineering screen presence, as her children lurk at the foot of her bed and hangers-on and servants cower in the wings.

As a study of familial disharmony it is sublime, and Schepisi (Steve Martin’s Roxanne) adds directorial flourishes alongside moments of dark comedy. 

Yet despite this, Storm’s ponderous pace makes it a tough family to be won over by, whose company it is tricky to ingratiate yourself with. 

Good for: A raft of high-calibre Aussie talent in a solid if a tad maudlin study of familial strife

Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis | 15 | 119mins | Out May 3 


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The Eye Of The Storm - film review: Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling star in this Australian family drama
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