Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock ★★½

Let me state right away which aspect of this "mystery" film I DON'T dislike: I'm not at all bothered by the fact that the central mystery remains unsolved. That's totally fine. I love Antonioni's 'L'Avventura' and I enjoyed, to the extent that's possible, Haneke's haunting 'White Ribbon'.

What this movie lacks that those don't is some driving force; a spirit that makes the place and the characters come alive, around the mystery or around anything else. I like Weir's other work, so I found it puzzling that this, perhaps his most praised work, is so, how do I put it, boring.

The good stuff: it's beautifully shot, and often quite poetic. Many of the performances hinge on a single good line or gesture, which is worthy of respect.

Not so good: haphazard editing, unbearable pan-flute score. (The string sections are better.)

The various details Weir uses to misdirect the viewer also come so frequently, by the end of the movie I was groaning at them. The same goes for the ending, which critics often seem to call "ambiguous". I'd use the word "ineffectual".

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