Price of Milk

A review by Bill Gosden - - March 29, 2006

"Director Harry Sinclair and actress Danielle Cormack leave Topless Women behind and head to the green, green grass south of the city. Cows outnumber people in The Price of Milk but Sinclair's jangly mix of satiric scepticism and romantic whimsy needs no cafe culture to support it. Abetted by the resplendent CinemaScope cinematography of Leon Narbey, he has fashioned a visual rhapsody to the empty loveliness of dairy country - and peopled it with gorgeous oddballs who delight and perplex each other to distraction. The most down-to-earth character in this enchanted realm is the farmer Rob who, everybody agrees, is a very nice guy. He knows his cows by number and lets his agoraphobic dog run around encased in a cardboard carton. Rob lives in a euphoria of sexual hi-jinks with Lucinda, played with a twinkling insolence and crinkled golden tresses by Danielle Cormack.

'I liked the idea of fairy tale that starts where most fairy tales end,' says Sinclair. The princess who's fetched up with her handsome swain, Lucinda decides to find out what comes after 'happily ever after' and sets a test to prove the extent of Rob's devotion. The ensuing pandemonium is exacerbated by the interference of Lucinda's envious friend Drosophila (Willa O'Neill) and a witchy old woman (Rangi Motu) who commands a gang of golf-club wielding retainers. Magic realism pops out all around him, and the improvised narrative of love-trial and counter-trial feels less then inexorable, but Karl Urban, lithe and sensual in blue overalls, stabilises the film in Rob's basic good nature. In a movie-star turn to match Cormack's spinning loveliness, Urban endows consternation with smouldering charisma. At a time when most New Zealand movies would make good television (and have budgets to match), The Price of Milk reasserts the glories of the giant screen: movie stars, true love and betrayal, a magnificent landscape and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra on the soundtrack."

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