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Rated PG-13 · 165 minutes
Seven years after Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann returns with this frothy historical romance set in his native land during the run-up to World War II. The story is a shameless knockoff of The African Queen, with Nicole Kidman, as white and perfect as a porcelain doll, arriving from the UK to take over her late husband's ranch and Hugh Jackman, his mighty pecs glistening with sweat, helping her drive 1,500 head of cattle to market. Onto this narrative Luhrmann has grafted two interesting chapters from Australian history: the government's mass relocation of mixed-race children to white families in the 30s and Japan's aerial bombardment of the Northern Territory in the days after Pearl Harbor. Luhrmann's squirrelly, five-exclamation-point stylings mercifully subside after the first 20 minutes or so, leaving behind a palatable big-screen confection, and in keeping with the nationalistic good feeling, the cast includes such iconic Australian actors as David Gulpilil (Walkabout) and Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson (who costarred in Breaker Morant).

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