Title – Beautiful Kate (2009)
Director – Rachel Ward (Martha’s New Coat)
Cast – Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe, Bryan Brown, Rachel Griffiths, Maeve Dermody
Plot – Australian writer Ned Kendall (Mendelsohn) returns back home to his small town community to visit his dying father Bruce (Brown), a man to whom his been estranged with for many years. Ned’s return home also causes him to ponder his upbringing that includes dark secrets he shared with his now deceased sister Kate (Lowe).
“A man can live his whole life and never cop to his greatest achievement”
Review by Eddie on 20/07/2017
Proving once again that when it comes to intense family drama’s and quietly powerful studies of grief and secrets, Australia does it just as good if not better than anyone else, little known but well regarded local film Beautiful Kate is a fine example of the above average productions that often manifest themselves in our home grown industry.
Directed by actress turned director Rachel Ward, starring a then just about to hit the big time Ben Mendelsohn and Australian stalwarts Bryan Brown and Rachel Griffiths alongside the at the time newcomer Sophie Lowe, Beautiful Kate isn’t an easy or even what you’d call enjoyable watch but this impressively filmed and acted slice of outback family melodrama is a worthy film to be sort out by connoisseurs of Australian cinema.
The most pressing reason to source Ward’s film is of course the man of the moment Ben Mendelsohn. Playing internally repressed writer Ned Kendall who grew up with his unloving farmer father Bruce played by Brown, Mendelsohn once more displays his finely tuned performance skills to play troubled characters and it offers us cinema lovers one of the rare chances to see Mendelsohn take lead in a film even if both Brown and Lowe deserve kudos for their respective turns. Lowe in particular makes a rather confronting and stripped back mark as the layered Kate, Ned’s sister who is the central cause behind much of his seething struggles.
The film also looks fantastic with impressive camerawork by DOP Andrew Commis and Ward’s direction in certain areas really captures particular moments and feelings, no better exemplified by the way in which the younger version of Ned is often displayed in a first person point of view, throwing the viewer head first into the time and place that shaped Ned’s life before it ever really had a chance to truly begin. It’s a smart directional choice and a brave one as is Ward’s determination to not shy away from the difficult and often disturbing subject matters that lay ever present within her story.
Final Say –
Far from perfect and sometimes not as emotionally resonate as you would’ve liked, Beautiful Kate is a worthwhile tough watch thanks to its fine production values and noteworthy performances that includes a pre-Animal Kingdom Ben Mendelsohn in what’s another fine example as to why he should be regarded as one of Australia’s best ever acting imports.
Not a film for everybody, Beautiful Kate is however a film any fan of Australian cinema should check out if they missed its original critically backed run from 2009.
3 ½ campaign posters out of 5