Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: A 1930s Anglican priest and his wife play host to an Australian artist and his three nude models. Lots of lesbian subtext and sensuous nudity.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1993
Duration: 94 min
Language: Australia, UK/English
Director: John Duigan
Writer: John Duigan
Starring: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Sam Neill, Elle Macpherson, Portia de Rossi, Kate Fischer, Pamela Rabe, Ben Mendelsohn, John Polson, Mark Gerber, Julia Stone, Ellie MacCarthy, Vincent Ball, John Duigan, Lexy Murphy

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Tony (Hugh Grant) and Estella (Tara Fitzgerald), a 1930s Anglican priest and his wife, have just arrived in Australia from England. They are asked to stop at the home of painter Norman Lindsay (Sam Neill), to convince the artist to remove the nudes from his work to be displayed in a special exhibit of religious art.

They end up being stuck there for a few days, arguing over the church’s repression of women and of sexuality. Norman’s three nude models purposefully shock the couple with their openness and sensuality. In Estella, it awakens a part of her that she has hidden married to a more conservative husband, and it puts her into a bit of a tizzy, enough that she sleeps with the handyman.

One day the four women are relaxing on the pond shore. Sheela (Elle Macpherson, A Girl Thing) and Pru (Kate Fischer) begin caressing Giddy (real life lesbian Portia de Rossi), and Estella joins in. The night before she leaves, Estella dreams that the three women are naked and caressing her body, and even as she leaves on the train, she daydreams that all of them are nude together.

It’s a beautifully filmed movie, very artsy and sensuous, with a lot of christian religious imagery. There’s a great deal of female frontal nudity on a regular basis. Not a ‘lesbian film’ per se, but it’s very sexy, with an appreciation of both the female form and the importance of freedom of expression. (AB)