DVD: Australia (12)

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The Independent Culture

It's a long time coming, but after the first hour-or-so of cinematic ticks Baz Luhrmann manages to rescue an impressive epic from the jaws of what could have been a not-too-impressive farce.

Nicole Kidman plays Lady Ashley, forced to move from England to the northern shores of Oz to rescue her late husband's cattle ranch from the encroaching greed of a neighbouring beef magnate, King Carney (Bryan Brown). Forced to drive cattle across the landscape, she falls in love with a local drover (Hugh Jackman). Their affair reaches its peak as the bombing of Darwin in 1942 plays out in the background. It's an enjoyable romp, if overlong. Also Luhrmann's visual whimsy is becoming slightly tired, less suited to vast Antipodean panoramas than it is to the bordellos of Paris.