Australian director John Duigan seems committed to a sensualist cinema. Last year he made Wide Sargasso Sea and Flirting, and now comes Sirens, a comedy of morals and manners that uses as its point of departure the familiar contrast of a repressed preacher (played by the ubiquitous Hugh Grant) and sexually wilder spirits, all set against the vast spectacular vistas of Australia.
But the mixture of eroticism and humor is not always successful. Yet I give the director credit for making an erotic movie that doesn't contain explicit or graphic sexual scenes. At the same time, I have to warn you that Sirens lacks a coherent story or a strong dramatic center, and at times sounds and looks a bit silly.
In Duigan's fictional story, which is reportedly based on real characters, Sam Neill plays a famous but controversial painter-sculptor, who is obsessed with drawing naked women, including his wife. For long stretches of time, three stunningly looking women, including celebrity model Elle Macpherson, are posing in the nude.
Grant's Reverend Anthony Campion is sent by the Anglican Bishop of Sydney to convince the painter to remove his etching, “The Crucified Venus,” from a public exhibition. The patronizing Reverend is accompanied on this mission with his pompous and stiff wife Estella (Tara Fitzgerald). At first, the couple is scandalized by what they see and hear, but gradually Estella is drawn to the more liberated lifestyle, and even experiences an audacious act of her own.
The Australian scenery (the Blue Mountains) is stunning and so are the women, who seem to have fun showing off their bodies. For better or worse, Hollywood doesn't make movies like Sirens, which exhibits a distinctly European flavor.
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