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The Well (1997) – DVD Review

well dvd cover


Written by: Laura Jones, based on a novel by Elizabeth Jolley
Directed by: Samantha Lang
Starring: Pamela Rabe, Miranda Otto, Paul Chubb, Frank Wilson


  • Theatrical trailers
  • Filmographies of Pamela Rabe and Miranda Otto

Released by: Fox Lorber
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: It’s gone walkabout. (Translation: no)

My Advice: Avoid It.

Hester (Pamela Rabb) is a lonely, responsible, repressed spinster on a farm in the Australian Outback. She hires Katherine (Miranda Otto) to help with the house. Katherine is Hester’s opposite: fun loving, wild, and reckless. So of course, they form an “opposites attract”, co-dependent friendship. When they accidentally run over a stranger in the road, both the relationship–and their collective sanity–begin to crack.

[ad#longpost]There are good movies, bad movies, and movies where you not sure if it’s good or bad. You know, the ones that seem all subtle and inventive. I always left wondering if I’m not receptive enough to pick up on the artistry or if the movie actually sucked. That is the gist of my problem with The Well.

The first half of the movie is taken up with developing the bond between Hester and Katherine. I can understand wanting to take the time to develop the characters and their relationship, but the pacing is glacier and too much of the movie is taken up with meaningful glances and too subtle interplay. When you finally get to the dead body and the friendship being replaced with suspicion, you just don’t care.

Also, the movie is blue and I don’t mean that in a good way. Everything is shot through a blue filter–so where you expect yellows and reds, the arid Australian landscape just looks odd. The characters are completely washed out and I have no idea why the director shot it this way. The two actresses, Pamela Rabe and Miranda Otto, work well together and portray that aforementioned subtlety well enough, but the film just didn’t do anything for me.

well pamela rabe miranda otto

As for the DVD presentation, it doesn’t help with only a trailer and a short filmography of the two actresses. The bottom line is this: I’m all for complexity and symbolism in film, but if I have to work too hard to get it, I’d rather not bother.

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