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DEAR CLAUDIA

SYNOPSIS:
Walter (Bryan Brown) is a 40-something flying postman resigned to a dead end life in outback Talok Springs; Claudia (Aleksandra Vujcic), who works at the local pub, is a strong willed, bewitching girl from Sydney, much younger than he. He never has the nerve to ask her out – and then one day she asks him for a lift in the mail plane to Cooktown. They set off, but a storm comes roaring through and to Claudia’s fury, Walter crashes the plane, forcing them onto a small, deserted island in the ocean. Walter rescues the mail and starts drying it; soon, he starts to like the island life. Claudia is desperate to be rescued. Then they start reading the letters, against Walter’s better instincts, and Claudia’s hostility begins to fade as they find their own hopes and fears echoed in the writing of others. But then Walter finds something else in the sunken plane: baggage which comes as ingots . . .

"One of the best things about Dear Claudia is the beginning – intriguing underwater images of two people struggling to the surface from the wreck of their plane. Conceptually, Dear Claudia may have looked great at script stage – Six Days Seven Nights, Aussie style. But the film is badly let down by the script, direction and unglittering performances. Brian Beamish’s score is intrusive and heavy handed, suggestive of farce. The natural beauty of Brampton Island is well showcased by Brian Breheny’s camera work, yet it is hard to become involved in characters who just do not ring true; besides, chemistry between Brown and Vujcic is non-existent. The subplot, which is integrated at regular intervals from the desert island location, just does not work. Bryan Brown does the best he can with the material; Aleksandra Vujcic looks lovely, but displays none of the screen magic she showed in Broken English, with a performance that is self-conscious and unbelievable. Dear Claudia may do well on video – it is the kind of undemanding viewing that may work better on the small screen. Brown deserves better material."
Louise Keller

"Dear Claudia ends up a curiously flat film, defying its many positive elements: it’s a case of a movie that’s less than the sum of its parts. The central idea of two very different people thrown together is a tried and true device, but here it crumbles at the knees, partly due to the self-imposed limitations in casting. Brown and Vujcic – proven actors in different contexts – do not find the magic spark that keeps a two hander gripping. They also struggle a bit with a script that doesn’t quite take off. The combination results not in characters but in acting, even though it’s against gorgeous backgrounds superbly photographed. Enormous physical effort went into the shoot, and it is to everyone’s credit that it doesn’t show. Like Louise, I find the music completely wrong for this film, which further weakens the film’s impact."
Andrew L. Urban

"One can understand why this tale of shipwreck (or plane wreck), love and lust on a deserted island may not appeal to the many critics. After all, it's a tad derivative and not exactly original. But putting those problems aside, this quietly effective Australian comedy has an unpretentious simplicity about it, a funny style that results in a charming, offbeat romantic comedy. First-time director Chris Cudlip has penned and crafted an amiable, sweet and well-intentioned little film, which deals with fading dreams and hopes, and has an uncomplicated structure to it. The film is essentially a two-hander, a danger if your cast doesn't work together, but the surprise combination of Bryan Brown and sexy Aleksandra Vujcic is one that works rather well. The naïve character he plays may initially put off Brown fans, and it's a character we haven't seen from the veteran Aussie before. Yet he handles himself with a light comic deftness that suits both the character and the material, while Vujcic is sexy and funny as his leading lady. Dear Claudia looks lovely, with its picturesque scenery, and despite an annoying musical score, the film moves along at a brisk pace. Here is a film that is old fashioned, sweet and sexy, a fun-filled uncomplicated romp that is surprisingly engaging and delightful."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 1

Andrew L. Urban drives & treks up and down steep tracks to reach an exotic, deserted beach on Brampton Island to report on
THE MAKING OF
Dear Claudia.

DEAR CLAUDIA (M)
(Aus)

CAST: Bryan Brown, Aleksandra Vujcic, Rel Hunt, Deborah Mailman, Kim Hillas

DIRECTOR: Chris Cudlipp

PRODUCER: Jim McElroy

SCRIPT: Chris Cudlipp

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brian Breheny

EDITOR: Bill Murphy

MUSIC: Brian Beamish

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sally Campbell

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 25, 1999







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