Oh, what a shame. What we have here are three of the finest performances of the year but they're in a movie that doesn't give them anything to do.
Basil (Rush) and Dorothy (Davis) are children of grand old dame that is Elizabeth Hunter (Rampling), a bed-ridden millionaire who has summoned her offspring home to the affluent Sydney suburb of Centennial Park for what must now be her last days. The trio have never been close and, in truth, Basil and Dorothy have only returned home because once again they have fallen on hard times, something the matriarch knows all too well. Torn between not having a thing in common but all looking for comfort from one another, the next few days will put severe pressure on the already fractious family.
Adapted from Patrick White's 1973 novel, the year the writer won the Nobel Prize for Literature, The Eye Of The Storm is a rambling affair that fails to engage. It has plenty of backstory and deeply buried secrets and feelings of resentment but not enough of this manifests itself into an engaging plot. The flashback to the titular storm clears up the reason behind most of the mother-daughter tension, but it's supposed to signify something else, something bigger. What that might be, however, is lost. Roxanne and Six Degrees Of Separation director Fred Schepsi beautifully realise the 70s era and, while it's all very posh and elegant and big rooms and darlings, there's nothing behind it.
This is such a pity because Rush, Rampling and Davis are in fine fettle. Rush's exaggerated movements and prances as if he's a player in a bad play are fun; it's his narration that occasionally carries the film, a voiceover that tells us about the great play he wants to write, a semi-autobiographical play that explores exactly what he wants from his own life - sincerity. The little touches from Judy Davis, the tiny nuances she brings to Dorothy, are a delight and Rampling veers from touching to malicious without blinking. Watching the three is wonderful but one wishes they had something else to do.
Schepsi wants us to be enthralled with the family dynamics but there's nothing interesting happening here.