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UMBRELLA WOMAN, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Pretty young Marge (Rachel Ward) lives with her quiet lumberjack husband Sonny (Bryan Brown) in Corrimandel, an Australian outback town in the late 1930s. Childless herself, she helps out as midwife to the local women. When Sonny's hapless younger brother Sugar (Steven Vidler) moves in for a while, Sugar asks to sleep with Marge - which Sonny condones. But it's a failure. Lonely, bored and unfulfilled, Marge is both aroused and revolted when the town's sexy new bartender, Neville (Sam Neill) unsuccessfully forces his attentions on her. The incident triggers a slow burning fuse in Marge and in due course she in turn approaches Neville, only to find he is no longer interested, publicly humiliating her. Meanwhile, he's flagrantly bedding women of the town, married or not. Marge's obsession for Neville begins to overwhelm her, and when he's kicked out of town, she boards his train, only to meet with a dramatic rebuff that threatens her life.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With its soap opera-friendly plot, The Umbrella Woman may have been more successful had director Ken Cameron taken a less earnest approach, giving in to the material's melodramatic elements and spurring on the sense of outback townsfolk behaving madly. Without a sense of humour, and without a genuine dramatic device to explain Marge's short lived but damaging obsession, the screenplay seems stilted and the film drags.

All the same, performances are tops, especially Bryan Brown and on and off screen wife Rachel Ward, who has to convey her out of character behaviour as best she can, with little by way of script or direction to help her. Some of the supports are also excellent, notably Carole Skinner as the boarding house landlady and Lisa Hensley is s small but key role as one of the girls bedded by Neville, played with suave mischief by Sam Neill.

James Bartle's lens captures the sense of a small outback town with grace, and his interiors are lit with a sense of reality, rather than romance. This provides a subliminal mood of credibility for the film. Still, it seems rather a lame premise and if it weren't for the star power of its leads, it may not have seen the light of day on DVD some 21 years afters its theatrical debut.

Published May 29, 2008

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UMBRELLA WOMAN, THE: DVD (M)
(Aust, 1987)

(aka The Good Wife)

CAST: Rachel Ward, Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Steven Vidler, Jennifer Claire, Clarissa Kaye-Mason, Susan Lyons, Bruce Barry, Peter Cummins, Carole Skinner, Lisa Hensley

PRODUCER: Jan Sharp

DIRECTOR: Ken Cameron

SCRIPT: Peter Kenna

CINEMATOGRAPHER: James Bartle

EDITOR: John Scott

MUSIC: Cameron Allan

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sally Campbell

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.78:1 widescreen 16:9 enhanced; DD 2.0 (transferred from US master, titled The Good Wife)

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Bryan Brown & Sam Neill; US trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

DVD RELEASE: April 2, 2008







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