Review of the movie "Lantana"

Literature Review, 2006

12 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of contents

1. Introduction
1.1 Overview
1.2 Plot summary

2. The characters of Lantana
2.1 The characters and their little secrets
2.2 The troubled marriages in Lantana

3. Lantana the movie
3.1 The main aspects of Lantana
3.2 How does Lantana work as a movie?
3.3 Winners and losers in the game of love
3.4 Comment

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

Directed by

Ray Lawrence


illustration not visible in this excerpt

Release date


Lantana is an Australian film that was released in 2001 and directed by Ray Lawrence. It is based on Andrew Bovell’s play Speaking In Tongues. The movie is set in a suburban area of Sydney and portrays the lives of nine different characters focusing especially on their relationships and their individual struggle with emotions. The name Lantana means the plant Lantana, a very thick and tangled shrub. The title can be interpreted as a metaphor for the tangled, intertwined relationships that are presented in the film.

Lantana was the first movie that won all of the top six categories of the Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards: best picture, best director, best actress, best actor, best supporting actress, best supporting actor.[1]

1.2 Plot summary

Lantana tells the story of eight couples who are joined through sex, betrayal and death. The four marriages are between Leon and Sonja, Jane and Pete, Nik and Paula, and Valerie and John.

The central event in Lantana is the mysterious death of psychiatrist Dr. Valerie Sommers, her body is found in a remote forrest near a quiet back road. Detective Leon Zat is called to solve the case and during his investigations he discovers that his wife Sonja was one of Valerie’s clients because of their unfulfilling marriage. Leon suspects Valerie’s husband John Knox, who claims he wasn’t at home when his wife desperatley called him from a phone box, saying her car broke down, to be involved in his wife’s death. Leon finds out that John and Valerie had their own difficulties with their relationship based on the murder of their daughter Eleanor and Valerie’s suspicion of John having an affair with her latest client, Patrick.

Leon’s investigations lead to an awkward situation with Jane O'May, a woman he has a short-term affair with. She finds a crucial clue, one of Valerie’s shoes, in the shrubs of her neighbour Nik, a seemingly loving father and husband.

It turns out that Valerie had an accident and Nik picked her up intending to drive her home. But when Nik spontaneously took a shortcut Valerie paniced an jumped out of the car. Nik didn’t mean to scare her so he just left her there in the forrest but later he found her shoe in his car.

2. The characters of Lantana

2.1 The characters and their little secrets

Detective Leon Zat

Detective Leon Zoat is a tough, middle-aged police officer who suffers from some sort of midlife-crisis. He is presented as a stereo-typed, Australian male; strong and unable to express his feelings.

He deceives his wife Sonja by beginning a short-term affair with Jane, a woman he met at the dancing course he’s attending with his wife. His marriage suffers from routine and Leon has built himself a fassade of pretence and faked happiness. Though he still loves Sonja he is not able to express his feelings for her.

His suppressed emotions tend to be released at his job as a cop in form of uncontrollable aggression towards criminals. The scene were we see him beat up a suspect for being a drug dealer is the first where Leon's emotional state becomes somehow visible and we see that he is suffering and does not know how to cope with his feelings. His emotional state becomes more apparent when he confronts Patrick and his lover in their appartment, he overreacts and is again very aggressive. His colleague Claudia then points out, "your marriage is falling apart and so are you."

Leon has to face challenges not only in his marriage but also with his physical condition, he has a weak heart.

Sonja Zat

Sonja appears to be a lively person but in fact she’s overwhelmed by desperation. Although she has a husband and two kids she feels lost and lonely, thinking her marriage lacks passion, challenges and most of all emotional honesty. Like Leon she hides her emotions but attends therapist Valerie Sommers, unknowing to her husband. During her therapy sessions she reveals to suspect Leon of having an affair but points out that she wouldn’t see the affair itself as betrayel but the fact that Leon might not tell her about it. In order to reanimate passion Sonja and Leon attend to a Latin dancing class and this is ironically where their marriage goes off the tracks as it is here that Leon meets Jane.


[1] See (the Internet Movie Data Base)

Excerpt out of 12 pages


Review of the movie "Lantana"
University of Duisburg-Essen  (Department of Anglophone Studies)
Filming Australia
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
488 KB
Australia, Australien, movie review, Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, cultural studies
Quote paper
Florian Rübener (Author), 2006, Review of the movie "Lantana", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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