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Lantana Blooms with Complexity

2006-03-30 11:57

The lantana bush, on its surface, is a lovely plant, filled with exotic flowers. Beneath this beauty, however, hides a thick, thorny growth. The lantana serves as a central symbol in Ray Lawrence's new film, an ominous, beguiling psychological drama that is a labyrinth of love, sex and deceit.

In Lantana, police detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia), consumed with guilt about cheating on his wife, becomes embroiled in a missing persons investigation. Director Ray Lawrence and writer Andrew Bovell (who adapted the screenplay from his own play) use the crime-story format to study four sets of married couples.

The couples' secrets and lies crisscross Leon's investigation and illuminate the personal crisis he must resolve. Everyone in this film has something to hide...and some of them will not survive.

What the critics are saying:

"There are tens of reasons to watch Lantana, but if his (LaPaglia's) acting was the only one, it would still be essential viewing."
- Nev Pierce, BBCi

"It doesn't settle for pat judgments. Instead it examines more profound issues, such as the darker sides of the morally victimized and the more saintly sides of the victimizers. And it's often wickedly funny."
- Desson Howe, Washington Post

"Lawrence expertly choreographs the release of festering secrets. The acting is top-notch, and the performance of his career."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

This brilliantly acted film manages great depth of insight without any pretension. A taut murder mystery combined with a fascinating series of character studies, Lantana is compulsively watchable.

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