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Australia 1988
Directed by
Lex Marinos
97 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Boundaries Of The Heart

Written by Peter Yeldham, who has had an extensive career before and after this film as a television writer, and actor Lex Marinos's only gig as a feature film director, Boundaries Of The Heart suggests an Antipodean Fool For Love (sc, Sam Shepard, d. Robert Altman, 1985).

Rodeo rider Andy (John Hargreaves) returns to the tiny Outback hamlet of Olwyn's Boundary (pop.49), as he has done each year for hte past decade where his old flame Stella (Wendy Hughes) and her Dad (Norman Kaye) keep a pub, His trip is a last-ditch attempt to convince Stella, who has never been able to commit herself to one man, to marry him. Meanwhile, Dad falls for a guest (Julie Nihill) at the hotel.

Replacing Shepard's swaggering Americana with Australian diffidence and swapping Shepard's tortured passion for a muted naturalism Boundaries Of The Heart is less conducive to heightened drama than Altman's more theatrically stylized treatment but nevertheless it achieves an understated poignancy in what is a well-rounded story that gets inside its characters with insight and empathy.

I have no idea if Yeldham and Marinos were aware of Shepard's play and/or Altman's film but Boundaries of the Heart is very much their own work and comparisons aside the film combines Antipodean pragmatism with touching pathos amidst a charming depiction of 1950s rural Australia.

Both Hargreaves and Hughes adopt broad Strine accents, somewhat oddly in the case of Hargreaves, who sounds rather strangulated at times. Hughes, an actress often cast as an aloofly beautiful woman, uses her looks to a much more interesting purpose as the faded good time girl, making this one of her most engaging screen appearances. Hargreaves, accent aside, is also very effective as the scorned lover trying to come to terms with the futility of his devotion, their final confrontation being an emotional moment in what is a much more successful pairing than was their 1983 effort, Careful He Might Hear You. Max Cullen gives an amusing performance as Blanko, the town's gossip-prone mechanic

The sub-plot involving Stella's Dad and a small-time adventuress is not entirely convincing but works effectively to balance out the main romantic axis, the over-arching theme of love and loneliness being handled with palpable affection.




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