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CELESTE

SYNOPSIS:
Once Australia's most beloved opera singer, Celeste (Radha Mitchell) retired to live on a crumbling property in the rainforests of tropical far north Queensland with the man she loved. After his tragic death, Celeste is ready to make one final return to the stage. But stepson Jack (Thomas Coquerel), still haunted by the past, arrives at her behest amidst the preparations for the performance, and finds Celeste as he remembered: beautiful, intoxicating and dangerous. But when she asks Jack for an impossible favour, the secrets that drove them apart explode back into rhapsodic life.

Review by Louise Keller:
The lush Queensland rainforest is the star of this episodic Australian melodrama whose mood lingers but our interest wanes, amid secrets, longing and regrets. It's a fine vehicle for Radhda Mitchell, who firmly places her stamp on the character of the retired opera singer with a tragic past. Writer director Ben Hackworth has created a potboiler of a film in which location is its alluring central character. The ingredients of passion and illicit love are less successful.

Watching from above, we can almost smell the tropics, as we see a pretty parasol shading Celeste (Mitchell), as she wanders through the rainforest. It is this imagery and the sense of place that is the most seductive thing about the film.

Our introduction to Celeste's stepson, Jack (Thomas Coquerel) shows he is a handful. But it is not only where women is concerned. We are not clear on his relationship with Celeste until he uproots and returns for her final performance. All the relationships are rather ill defined - including that of of Grace (Nadine Garner), Celeste's friend and assistant.

Don't look too hard for credibility when it comes to Celeste's upcoming performance. Most of the emphasis is placed on the steamy relationship between Celeste and Jack. We are kept waiting until her performance, that we see what really happened 10 years ago - in flashback.

I felt distanced throughout this moody tale that never feels as though it is grounded in reality. There are a few surprises and story twists, but it is the disconnect from the characters that keeps us at arms length, never allowing us to care for their plight. As a visual feast, the film fares much better.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

CELESTE (M)
(Aus, 2018)

CAST: Radha Mitchell, Thomas Cocquerel, Nadine Garner, Odessa Young, Emm Wiseman

PRODUCER: Lizzette Atkins, Raphael Cocks

DIRECTOR: Ben Hackworth

SCRIPT: Bille Brown, Ben Hackworth

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Katie Milwright

EDITOR: Peter Carrodus

MUSIC: Jackson Milas, Antony Partos

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ross Wallace

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 25, 2019







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