Australia, Samantha Lang (1997)
Many years ago, I read a book called The Well, which I really enjoyed. (My review from way back in 1995 is here.) So, I was intrigued when I heard that it had been made into a movie. Of course, it was never released in theatres here, so I forgot all about it. Through the wonders of DVD–responsible for resurrecting and making available so many amazing movies, old and new–it’s now available.
The Well is an eerie tale of two women living a strange symbiotic existence in the middle of nowhere in the Australian Outback. Their relationship, which begins as employer and maid and turns into friendship, is threatened when the car they’re driving gravely strikes a man on the road and they quickly dispose of the body down a well. The psychological thrills ramp up when the women discover the inheritance they’ve been hording has been stolen and may now be at the bottom of the well.
The Well is strikingly shot with a filter that gives everything a blue tone, an effective way to set the mood. The pace is slow, but never dull and the slightly altered reality reminded me of Picnic at Hanging Rock and especially The Others, two movies I really enjoyed.
Miranda Otto, who went on to kick some butt in The Lord of the Rings movies, plays Katherine, the free-spirited young woman who’s hired to work on the farm. She’s happiest when the music is cranked loud and she can twirl about, flailing her arms in the air. She’s not prone to work very hard but she likes it when Hester buys her things. Pamela Rabe is excellent as the middle-aged Hester, a dour and repressed woman who runs her father’s sheep ranch and is sparked back to life by Katherine’s presence. She forms a quick attachment to the young girl and creates a fantasy future for them both, travelling abroad. With the accident, things quickly unravel between the two as the dead man comes between Hester and her girl, calling to them both from the well. [***1/2]