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Toni Collette's extraordinary performance, Alison Tilson's sensitive script and Ian Baker's sensational cinematography add up to a surprising film set against the rugged backdrop of Western Australia's stunning Pilbara desert. Geologist Sandy Edwards (Collette), who co-owns a software company with business partner Bill Baird (Matthew Dyktynski), reluctantly...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Toni Collette's extraordinary performance, Alison Tilson's sensitive script and Ian Baker's sensational cinematography add up to a surprising film set against the rugged backdrop of Western Australia's stunning Pilbara desert. Geologist Sandy Edwards (Collette), who co-owns a software company with business partner Bill Baird (Matthew Dyktynski), reluctantly accompanies potential client Tachibana Hiromitsu (Gotaro Tsunashima) to the westernmost edge of Australia; she and Baird hope that a tour of the region's mining facilities will lead to a much-needed contract with the Hiromitsu family's iron ore company. Entranced by Australia's vast, wide open spaces, Hiromitsu demands to be driven far into the desert. Sandy is assigned to be the designated driver, and things get off to a terrible start. She doesn't speak a word of Japanese, and he speaks little English and will talk only to his cell phone. She thinks he's supercilious and arrogant, he finds her loud and pushy. After driving for hours, Sandy tells Hiromitsu that there's really nothing else to see and warns him that there's a good chance they'll get stuck in the sand, but even when the asphalt strip turns to dusty red dirt, Hiromitsu insists on pushing further into the wilderness. Sure enough, they're soon hopelessly stranded in the middle of nowhere, each trapped in the company of someone s/he has come to loathe. Personality clashes and petty annoyances aside, Sandy and Hiromitsu run the very real risk of dehydration beneath the broiling midday sun and freezing to death once night falls. It will come as no surprise that they not only make it through this bit of adversity, but also learn to like each other — a lot — and Collette's portrayal of Sandy is at first equally predictable — she's the tough broad who's also a little tough to like. But the film takes a completely unexpected turn about halfway through and the tone abruptly shifts from that of a comedic AFRICAN QUEEN to something far more somber. And that's when Collette pulls out all the stops, parlaying a genuine sense of shock and guilt into the performance of her career. Director Sue Brooks delivers a few unexpected twists of her own, including an unusual sex scene during which Sandy quite literally wears the pants.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Toni Collette's extraordinary performance, Alison Tilson's sensitive script and Ian Baker's sensational cinematography add up to a surprising film set against the rugged backdrop of Western Australia's stunning Pilbara desert. Geologist Sandy Edwards (Coll… (more)

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