Flirting (1991)

Written & Directed by John Duigan
Starring Noah Taylor, Thandie Newton, Nicole Kidman, Bartholomew Rose, Felix Nobis


Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Rent It.

Welcome to Australia. It's the 60s. Danny Embling (Taylor) is your typical outcast at a sports-dominated private school for boys. Into his life comes the daughter of a Ugandan diplomat, Thandiwe (Newton). She's studying at a private school for girls that just so happens to be located across the lake. When they meet at a mixer function, something happens. They find in each other a kindred spirit and fall in love. But everything and everybody seems to have designs on keeping them apart, including but not limited to Nicola (Kidman), the empress of the girls school clique.

This is one of those one in a hundred films about teen romance that seems to want something different. Maybe I'm just deadened to the genre from recent years' cinematic cannon fodder, but this one always struck me for three major reasons. First, it was unique, it was sweet, and it was warm. None of this business of machismo and heaving breasts by actors in their mid-twenties playing high schoolers--this was a story about growing up, and an effective one. Very rare. Second, it introduced me to Noah Taylor, who is one of my favorite criminally undervalued actors around--he most recently was robbed of an oscar nomination for Shine. Lastly, it introduced me (and everyone else) to the very talented and extremely gorgeous Thandie Newton, who would go onto make Beloved amongst other things. Both of these actors were superb in their roles here, with Kidman playing a supporting role and doing the ice queen bit perfectly.

There's not much to commend about the DVD presentation, since it only comes with the original trailer. A commentary with the director Duigan and Taylor would have been nice, since they had worked together on The Year My Voice Broke and supposedly a third film about Danny Embling is coming some day.

I must say though, I find myself a little peeved at the way the box art has been done. The version I have has at least the three principal actors listed, but the version from Amazon I pulled up top just has Kidman. I wouldn't be surprised if that had been used everywhere--since Taylor (what did I tell you--criminally undervalued) isn't even on the box regardless. And with a title like Flirting and what looks like Newton making "eyes" at Kidman--you figure out how they were trying to market this thing to. The picture used on the main menu of the disc doesn't help matters. Makes it seem like the film is something that it isn't, which is a damnable shame.

This thing is worth grabbing to rent for the film itself, but the lack of features make me hesitate to tell you to plonk down the coin. But do see it once just for Noah's sake.

Buy it from Amazon!

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