The Eye of the Storm (NR)

Drama 114 September 7th, 2012
By Nick Schager
Emotionally and psychologically textured melodrama suffers under the weight of its source material in The Eye of the Storm, Fred Schepisi's adaptation of Australian Nobel Prize winner Patrick White's 1973 novel. Schepisi's direction has a measured stateliness that, in conjunction with Kate Williams's graceful editing, lends quiet, dreamy intensity to the tumultuous proceedings, at least until a sluggish third act. Yet in trying to remain staunchly faithful to the page, the film-- about the visit of spoiled playwright-actor Basil (Geoffrey Rush) and sister Princess Dorothy (Judy Davis) to the deathbed of their wealthy, domineering matriarch Elizabeth (Charlotte Rampling)-- crams in so many subplots, thematic threads, and peripheral players that much is treated with hasty sketchiness. Nonetheless, its portrait of the grotesque über-privileged has considerable bite, bracingly reveling in the greed, selfishness, bitterness, jealousy, neurosis, detachment, and hunger for power and sex of its upstairs familial unit and the downstairs servants and lovers. Narrative unevenness notwithstanding, those hang-ups are given delicious life by a superb Rush, Davis, and Rampling (the latter often confined to a bed and encased in elderly makeup), who prove a regally dysfunctional trio par excellence.
Fred Schepisi Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling, Dustin Clare, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, Robyn Nevin, Jamie Timony, Helen Morse, Elizabeth Alexander, Alexandra Schepisi Judy Morris, Patrick White Sycamore Entertainment