In a Sydney suburb, two nurses, Maria and Flora, a housekeeper, Lotte, and a solicitor, Arnold, attend to Elizabeth Hunter as her expatriate son Sir Basil, a famous but struggling actor in London, and daughter Dorothy, a divorced and down at heel princess, convene at her deathbed. They come to make sure they can leave Australia with their hefty inheritance.
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If you are driven to see this drab, depressing, droning film, check "On Demand"; at least in the privacy of your home you can self-medicate; aiding, wading through a well-performed but meaningless tale of angst at the end .
Fine actors (Charlotte Rampling, Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis) cannot salvage this story of a dying, wealthy, Australian matriarch, luring her hapless children back into the poisonous luxury of their ancestral adobe; the year is 1972, and the bitter taste of the Holocaust is still palatable in the role of a German housekeeper.
At first the viewer empathizes with "Elizabeth Hunter" (Rampling) beloved by her "help", shunned by her children, "Basil" (Rush), "Dorothy" (Davis); gathered around her deathbed to suck the spoils of her imminent demise. But as the film progresses, through a series of flashbacks, we recognize why her children strayed so far from the hearth; "mommy dearest" on steroids; she steals her daughter's lovers, refuses to attend her son's stage performances; beds whomever she fancies; she is amoral, unaccountable, vainglorious, self-centered; her erasure should have come at a precipitated rate.
Novels by James Michener and James Clavell address the calm, aka "eye" before the apocalyptic conclusion. "The Eye of the Storm" offers a behemoth's tiresome struggle against the inevitable; there is nothing calming about the process.