Lantana (film)

Lantana is a 2001 Australian drama film, directed by Ray Lawrence and starring Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Armstrong, Geoffrey Rush and Barbara Hershey. It is based on the play Speaking In Tongues by Andrew Bovell, which premiered at Sydney's Griffin Theatre Company. The film won seven AACTA Awards including Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byRay Lawrence
Produced byJan Chapman
Screenplay byAndrew Bovell
Based onSpeaking In Tongues (play)
by Andrew Bovell
StarringAnthony LaPaglia
Geoffrey Rush
Barbara Hershey
Kerry Armstrong
Rachael Blake
Vince Colosimo
Russell Dykstra
Daniela Farinacci
Peter Phelps
Leah Purcell
Glenn Robbins
Music byPaul Kelly
CinematographyMandy Walker
Edited byKarl Sodersten
Distributed byPalace Films
Release date
Running time
121 minutes[1]
Box office$15.7 million[2]

Lantana is set in suburban Sydney and focuses on the complex relationships between the characters in the film. The central event of the film is the disappearance and death of a woman whose body is shown at the start of the film, but whose identity is not revealed until later. The film's name derives from the plant Lantana, a weed prevalent in suburban Sydney.


A woman's dead body is shown in a cluster of lantana bushes growing at a garden in suburbia.

Leon, a police officer, and Jane, have sex in a motel room. They part ways, and Leon and his wife, Sonja, attend Latin dance classes that the recently separated Jane is also taking.

Leon does not enjoy the classes. He is seen savagely beating a drug dealer during a bust. He has emotional issues but refuses to confront or admit to them. Sonja sees a therapist, Valerie, who has just published a book on her own daughter's murder 18 months ago. She and her husband, John, are barely on speaking terms; he later refers to their marriage as held together by their grief. She feels threatened by another patient, Patrick Phelan, who is having an affair with a married man, which forces Valerie to confront her own issues in her marriage to John.

Hoping to see Leon again, Jane purposely bumps into him outside the police station, and they have sex again despite Leon's reservations. Nik is upset that she is seeing someone because he is friends with her estranged husband, Pete, who wants to return home. Jane pairs up with Sonja in the next salsa class, which angers Leon, who ends their arrangement, which upsets Jane. She invites Nik over for coffee at the behest of Paula, with whom she is friendly and offers him money as they are struggling. Paula now starts to dislike Jane.

Valerie is coming home late one night and drives off the road. She is stranded and makes several calls to John, who does not answer. Finally, she is seen approaching a car coming along the road but never makes it home. Leon is the investigating detective on the case and looks into her office and notes. Surprised at seeing his wife's name and file, he takes an audio recording of their sessions.

Leon arrives home late, but Sonja is not asleep. He asks her about her therapy sessions with Valerie. They discuss their relationship, and he tells her that he just ended an affair but that he still loves her. Sonja is very upset and feels betrayed. Leon sleeps on the couch. In the morning, Sonja says that he will be lucky if she returns home that night.

Leon goes to John's house to interrogate him as the main suspect in his wife's disappearance. Leon starts a discussion about love, marriage and affairs, but lies to John when asked if he ever had an affair. Leon goes to Jane's house on police duty, as she has placed a call.

Jane was up late one night and watched Nik arrive home and throw something in the bushes across the road from her house. Later, she finds that it is a woman's shoe. Leon and Paula arrive at Jane's and declare that the shoe is Valerie's.

The police take Nik to the station, and he leaves his children with Jane. Police call Paula to come in for questioning. Neither Nik nor Paula knows that Jane made the police call. Although Paula does not like Jane, she calls her to thank her for minding their children. The police interrogate Nik, but he refuses to answer questions about Valerie, repeatedly asking to see Paula. After seeing his wife, Nik calms down and talks with Leon and Paula.

Valerie had car trouble and Nik was driving past. He agreed to give her a lift to her home but she panicked when he took a back road shortcut and so she jumped out of his truck. Valerie had run off, leaving behind her shoe. Paula goes to Jane's house to get her children, where she tells her that Nik is innocent of Valerie's disappearance. Jane asks how she knows that, and Paula simply replies that he told her. Jane asks if she can spend more time with the kids, but Paula forbids it after seeing how Jane went over into her house and tidied it. Leon, Paula, Nik, and John go to the place that Valerie jumped out of the truck. They find her body, as she had accidentally fallen down a ravine. Leon listens to the rest of the therapy tape, where his wife says that she still loved him, and he bursts into tears.

Leon returns home and sees his wife outside. Jane salsa dances alone, drinking and smoking, and her husband leaves her. Patrick is pained to see his lover happily spending time with his wife and kids. Nik and Paula are seen happily spending time with their kids. The movie ends with Sonja and Leon dancing together seductively. Leon, who at the beginning of the film finds dancing with his wife difficult, now appears to be doing well. He looks Sonja directly in her eyes and dances, just as she always wanted. Sonja struggles to initially return Leon's gaze but does so just before the movie ends.



Box office

Lantana opened on October 4, 2001 in Australia and December 14, 2001 in North America in 6 theaters. In the US, it grossed $66,701 with an average of $11,116 per theater and ranking #39 at the box office. Its widest release was 108 theaters and it ended up earning $4,623,189. The film earned $11,124,261 internationally (including $6,125,907 in Australia) for a total of $15,747,450.[3][4]

Critical response

Lantana received positive reviews from critics and has a 'certified fresh' score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 105 reviews with an average rating of 7.38/10. The critical consensus states "Lantana is an intricately plotted character study that quietly shines with authenticity."[5] The film also has a score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 29 critics indicating "universal acclaim".[6]

Writer and critic Roger Ebert compared the film to Short Cuts and Magnolia in terms of how it developed the connections between the lives of strangers.[7] It premiered in the UK on Channel 4 in December 2006. British critic Philip French described the film as a "thoughtful, gripping movie" based around the themes of "trust in its various forms, betrayal, forgiveness and grief".[8]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(2001 AFI Awards)
Best Film Jan Chapman Won
Best Director Ray Lawrence Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Andrew Bovell Won
Harper’s Bazaar AFI Screenwriting Prize Won
Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia Won
Best Actress Kerry Armstrong Won
Best Supporting Actor Vince Colosimo Won
Best Supporting Actress Rachael Blake Won
Daniela Farinacci Nominated
Best Editing Karl Sodersten Nominated
Best Original Music Score Paul Kelly Nominated
Best Sound Syd Butterworth Nominated
Andrew Plain Nominated
Robert Sullivan Nominated
Best Production Design Kim Buddee Nominated
Best Costume Design Margot Wilson Nominated
ARIA Music Award Best Original Soundtrack Album Paul Kelly Won
Australian Cinematographers Society Award of Distinction — Feature Productions Cinema Mandy Walker Won
ASSG Award Best Achievement in Sound for a Feature Film — Location Sound Recording Syd Butterworth Won
AWGIE Award Best Writing in a Feature Film — Adapted Andrew Bovell Won
BIFA Award Best Foreign Independent Film — English Language Jan Chapman Won
Festival du Film Policier de Cognac Critics Award Ray Lawrence Won
Special Jury Prize Won
Durban International Film Festival Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia Won
FCCA Awards Best Film Jan Chapman Won
Best Director Ray Lawrence Nominated
Best Screenplay — Adapted Andrew Bovell Won
Best Actor — Male Anthony LaPaglia Won
Best Actor — Female Kerry Armstrong Won
Best Supporting Actor — Male Vince Colosimo Nominated
Peter Phelps Nominated
Best Supporting Actor — Female Rachael Blake Nominated
Daniela Farinacci Won
Leah Purcell Nominated
Best Cinematography Mandy Walker Nominated
Best Editing Karl Sodersten Nominated
Best Music Score Paul Kelly Nominated
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Jury Award for Best Film Ray Lawrence Won
Jury Award for Best Director Won
Jury Award for Best Script Andrew Bovell Won
Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast Won
Inside Film Awards Box Office Achievement Won
Best Feature Film Jan Chapman Won
Ray Lawrence Won
Best Direction Won
Best Script Andrew Bovell Won
Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia Won
Best Actress The ensemble female cast Won
Best Cinematography Mandy Walker Nominated
Best Music Paul Kelly Nominated
Best Sound Design Andrew Plain Nominated
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon for Best Foreign Director Ray Lawrence Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards Film of the Year Jan Chapman Nominated
Screenwriter of the Year Andrew Bovell Won
Actress of the Year Kerry Armstrong Nominated
Melbourne International Film Festival Award Most Popular Feature Film Ray Lawrence Won
National Board of Review, USA Special Recognition for Excellence in Filmmaking Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival Golden Seashell Ray Lawrence Nominated

See also


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