George Ogilvie's THE CROSSING is a tense, small-town romantic drama set in the Australian outback.
Johnny (Russell Crowe of PROOF), the son of a smothering mother and dead war-hero father, has just proposed and made love for the first time to Meg (Danielle Spencer). The next day, Anzac Day, when the small town honors its war dead, sees the return of Sam (Robert Mammone), who had left for "the
city" to study art. He and Meg had been lovers before he left without saying goodbye. Now, finding his life empty without her, he has returned to take her back. As the bored, provincial locals look on, Sam tries to win Meg back in the middle of the town's Anzac Day parade. Meg rejects him, but is
suddenly uneasy with the idea of staying with Johnny. Meg's father had walked in on Johnny and Meg making love and, by lunch time, the entire town was excitedly anticipating their wedding date.
Goaded on by the locals, Johnny challenges Sam to a car race for honor and Meg's hand. When the race ends in a tie and almost costs both men their lives, Sam decides he's had enough and packs to leave. But at the last second he also decides to do what he didn't before by finding Meg at a local
dance to say goodbye. As they dance, a drunk and angry Johnny shows up. Seeing Sam and Meg together, he stomps off to his car, pursued by Meg. As they speed off followed by Sam, he notices that they're about to get hit by a train at a crossing. Unable to stop Johnny, Sam runs him off the road and
himself into the crossing. In the film's coda, Johnny is seen placing flowers at Sam's grave as Meg looks on.
With a plotline as simple and as melodramatic as a romantic pop ballad, THE CROSSING is nevertheless directed and played with an urgency and intelligence that sets a strong, tense mood without crossing over into kitsch or self-indulgent artiness. Ogilvie (who co-directed MAD MAX: BEYOND
THUNDERDROME with George Miller) and screenwriter Ranald Allan make fate itself the major player. The plot is efficiently set in motion when Meg and Johnny's lovers' idyll is invaded by Meg's father. As Meg later fingers a charm bracelet, already doubting the decision she has made, Ogilvie cuts to
an identical charm dangling from Sam's wrist as he drives toward the town. At the same time, the director intercuts dark, ominous images of the train being coupled to its engine and track junctions clicking into position to draw it precisely to its fatal and fateful destination.
The townspeople function as a multi-generational Greek chorus, both commenting and acting as a catalyst on the main action as their individual stories emerge in bits and pieces. A spiteful young man stirs things up between Sam and Johnny by phoning in a taunting dedication to a local radio
station. By way of explaining his bitterness, we later see him loading his dead-drunk father into his car. Waitress Peg (May Lloyd), derided as the town's "loose woman," yearns to leave for the unnamed city from whence Sam came and urges Meg to come with her, leaving her posturing macho suitors
behind. Thus Meg is torn in three directions at once: Johnny with his safe but stifling stability; Sam and his alluring but dangerous romanticism; and just leaving everything and everyone behind. She finally turns to her mother for guidance, who advises her that she would be lucky to find a man
who will stand by her. "But how do you know you've made the right choice?" Meg asks. "You never do," is the reply.
And that is what THE CROSSING is really about. We can never know what fate holds, and yet fate is ignored or tempted only at a terrible price. It's a theme and a story that has the power and purity of a ballad, underscored by the story's lack of specificity; it's difficult to tell not only where
the story takes place but when. The characters seem contemporary but the cars and songs on the soundtrack belong to the 1960s (albeit interpreted by contemporary artists like The Proclaimers and David Bowie's Tin Machine). At the same time THE CROSSING easily asserts the importance of this story
happening in this town to these characters with an unpretentious lyricism and conviction, making it another on a growing list of recent outstanding direct-to-video finds. (Profanity, adult situations, brief nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: George Ogilvie's THE CROSSING is a tense, small-town romantic drama set in the Australian outback. Johnny (Russell Crowe of PROOF), the son of a smothering mother and dead war-hero father, has just proposed and made love for the first time to Meg (Daniell… (more)