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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 12, 2018 

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Based on Kuki Gallmann’s autobiography of the same name, the film chronicles one woman’s remarkable existence – a tale of amazing adventures, laughter, deep love and the excruciating pain of losing loved ones and starting over. After being seriously injured in a car accident, Kuki Gallman (Kim Basinger) falls for her future husband Paolo (Vincent Perez). Having grown up in Africa, Kuki feels trapped in a comfortable life in Italy with her mother Franca (Eva Marie Saint) and son Emanuele (Liam Aiken). So when Paolo suggests they marry and return to the Kenyan farm where he once worked, she readily agrees. But when she gets there, she finds things are not all she imagined. The farm is run down, there is no water and nature is often cruel. As Paolo gradually spends more time away with his friends, Kuki has to learn how to cope in the wilds of Africa.

"In 1997 Kim Basinger arrived at the echelon of her career with a surprise Best Supporting Actress Oscar win for L.A Confidential. She deserved it, and she proves to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule; a beauty that burst on the scene with a break-through role but only improves with age. Just a handful of actresses belong to this elite group; Michelle Pfeiffer hung in there after The Fabulous Baker Boys, Sharon Stone after Basic Instinct, and at a stretch, Julia Roberts after Pretty Woman. Like Roberts in her recent hit Erin Brokovich, Basinger commands our attention in every scene here. Her co-stars’ characters are so under-developed we could hardly care less, and only the African landscape is allowed to look as good – but then again, breathtaking cinematography is essential in a movie like this. Basinger seems to be giving Gwenyth a run for her money in the Grace Kelly look-alike stakes; her hair looks so good it’s as if she had a Vidal Sassoon salon right there on the ranch. But Basinger hardly seems challenged by this slow-paced drama. We get the barest sense of her ideals here; she learns the language, drives a bulldozer, scares off elephants, shoots a dog, tries to stop a band of ivory poachers, and – admittedly – endures her share of personal loss. But as far as white-women-in-hostile-terrain movies go, she goes through the tiresomely familiar paces as did Meryl Streep in the similar Out of Africa. Their trials pale in comparison, for example, to Sigourney Weaver battling gorilla killers in Gorillas in the Mist, and Katharine Hepburn avoiding the Germans but succumbing to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. Interestingly, all bar the latter are based on the heroines’ memoirs, so the stories are there to be told. It’s just a matter of telling them well. Basinger has wisely bided her time and chosen her post-Oscar project carefully. It’s a pity that in this empty spectacle, she comes off lost in the bush."
Shannon J. Harvey

"This great looking film was shot in Italy and Africa - but the locations are just about the only things that are real in the production. The characters are all one-dimensional, the scenarios stagy and overwrought, and the acting largely wooden. While I Dreamed of Africa centres on Kuki Gallman, whose remarkable true life story was the subject of a book of the same name, the screenplay reveals very little of her. The film consists of an apparently random series of events in roughly chronological order with little in the way of narrative drive, conflict or resolution. It isn’t helped by the fact that Kim Basinger has virtually no on-screen chemistry with Vincent Perez, who is meant to be the great love of her life - mawkish scenes of the two gazing across the savannah notwithstanding. Both of them move mechanically through the film, and seem almost entirely uninterested in what’s going on. Of all the cast, only Eva Marie Saint displays any real charisma. Some of the dialogue is quite puerile and many scenes simply make no sense at all. Even the film’s oft-stated message about wildlife conservation is lost amid the muddled plot. However, it does feature some beautiful cinematography featuring African wildlife and sweeping vistas; and the soundtrack is quite enjoyable. But these don’t come close to making up for the remainder of the film. Seeing it for those reasons would be akin to going to an art gallery to look at the frames."
David Edwards

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CAST: Kim Basinger, Vincent Pérez, Liam Aiken, Garret Strommen, Eva Marie Saint

DIRECTOR: Hugh Hudson

PRODUCER: Stanley J. Jaffe, Allyn Stewart

SCRIPT: Paula Milne, Susan Shilliday, Kuki Gallman (from her book)


EDITOR: Scott Thomas

MUSIC: Maurice Jarre


RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 10, Sydney; August 17, Perth, August 24, Melbourne

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