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Don't let the title fool you. Although this is one of the sweetest movies you'll ever see, it is no beach blanket bingo for bimbos. This is an Aussie story of teen love set in 1965, heroic as only teens can play it. It is fun to watch, authentic and original at the same time, a coming of age flick in the English boarding school tradition of "Dead Poet's Society" (1989) and "A Separate Peace" (the novel, not the so-so movie). Noah Taylor stars as Danny Embling, an outsider who reads Sartre and Camus while satirizing the school's empty traditions. Across the lake is the girl's school where Thandiwe Adjewa (Thandie Newton), daughter of the Ugandan ambassador, is learning to meld with the Aussie pale faces, including a gifted pre-Hollywood Nicole Kidman.

Thandie Newton and Noah Taylor, as beautifully directed by John Duigan, are the reasons this film is so good. She has a fearless integrity about her that overcomes the prejudices of her school mates. He is wise and brave at a hundred and twenty pounds. She too is ultra sophisticated. She even met Sartre. This is a story about the love between two outsiders who, with their strength of character win over not only their classmates, but the audience as well. Imagine teenagers as witty and poised as say Eartha Kitt and Gore Vidal, and you get a hint of how it's played.

Nicole Kidman as the snobby Nicola Radcliffe (the name says it all) manages a subtle supporting role with a diamond-in-the-rough kind of charm and just the right touch of on-screen growth. The scene where she shares her stash of vodka (or perhaps a clear fruit liquor) with Thandiwe Adjewa is beautifully turned by Director John Duigan. Also excellent is the hotel scene where the adults are revealed as intrusive in the extreme. I like Danny Embling's line as he deadpans to a re-robing Thandiwe, "They're all funny, aren't they?" Yes, those adults are a little peculiar.

This is not unflawed, however. The ending, despite the rousing music, seemed a bland washout, leaving us with a sense of disappointment. And I thought the first love scene with the two "touching" was a little unreal. I mean he might have kissed her! There's a limit to how great a coming of age, boarding school movie can be, especially when the adults have only scarecrow parts. Nonetheless "Flirting" is a confectioner's delight, and one of the best coming of age movies I've ever seen.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"
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on August 25, 2002
This is certainly one of the finest examples of a coming of age picture, the first time I saw it I was quite literally shocked in every scene how true to life the dialogue was. The only place I have seen teen dialogue anywhere near as accurate is in the ill-fated TV drama My So-Called Life. Though his directing was marvelous, I think Duigan's writing is the most impressive. Newton and Taylor are spectacular and I have no words for their performances.
I disagree somwhat however with some of my fellow reviewers. I think the ending is fantastic and hopeful, really a sweet goodbye kiss of an ending. Also the love scene (where they don't kiss) seems absolutely perfect. The only reason I think anyone could possibly think it is not just how these things happen has been seduced by the formulaic nature of sex scenes rubber stamped into existence by Hollywood. The, yes, the genius which it took to write that scene is harrowing. Knowing these characters, knowing the situation leading up to it, the scene is soft, and delightful. I am still floored that someone could capture a scene so true that you feel it must have happened to you, and it is one of several like that. Unlike one other reviewer, I think Flirting is much better at this then The Year My Voice Broke which was very good, but Taylor had not come into his own as a young actor yet. Also to the person who said teenagers are too immature for this, I disagree. Some of them? Sure, undoubtedly. But to those who love watching the rerun marathons of My So-Called Life on MTV this will come as a breath of fresh air, a sense of relief that Jason Katims isn't the only person in the world who can write teen dialogue. There is in fact someone much better, John Duigan.
The only bad thing I can say about this film is that MGM marketing should hide their heads in shame for the cover design of both the DVD and the VHS tape. The DVD in particular is embarrassing. The fact that Kidman's name and her name alone is the one above the title is shocking even to a person like me who normally doesn't get that upset by unashamed materialism. Kidman does a fine, unremarkable job as a supporting character. She's barely in the first half at all and is quite forgettable. The supporting role of Gilby, Taylor's pretentious friend (played by Bartholomew Rose) is much more worthy of note.
I am so excited that this is coming to DVD (in widescreen no less which unfortunately The Year My Voice Broke did not) I can't express myself. I know there is a lot out there to buy, a lot out there we want and limited funds but...just trust me and buy this. If you remember being a teenager, if you remember how hard it was, and the moments that were really beautiful...Or if you simply can recognize the magnificence of the beautiful, earth-shattering event that occurs when two people look into each other's eyes and really see the person looking back at them....then buy it. You'll be glad you did.
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on January 6, 2004
Really a superb, charming, and deep coming of age movie. When I first saw the dvd box, I had no interest at all to see this. I thought the cover was sort of tacky and my first impression of the film was that of a corny teen comedy. Needless to say, I saw this on tv and was really amazed how good this movie was. Probably the most impressive aspect of "Flirting" was the grace of the script and how well all the young actors and actresses performed. Noah Taylor and Thandie Newton were just outstanding and really believable. I really enjoyed Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts also in their supporting roles. It was really great to see all these big names in roles before they made it big. Much respect to director and writer John Duigan. Cameron Crowe has stated that Noah Taylor is one of his favorate actors and you can definately see that he has to be a fan of Duigan's too. I was more amazed to learn that "Flirting" was a sequel and even more amazed when I watched the previous film, "The Year My Voice Broke."
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on January 12, 2005
I rated this movie 5 stars, but like Alp d'Huez in the Tour de France, this is "beyond category". This feels and sounds like real life. Don't think cinema ever gets any closer to matching a really good book than this movie manages. I don't know if any of this is autobiographical, but it sure feels like it. Actors only give performances this incredible when the script they are working with is extra special, and this script qualifies on all levels. Can't say enough about the performances of the leads, Noah Taylor and Thandie Newton, the movie hinges on the emotional connection they make and it all works like magic. This is a DVD to own, not rent. You will want to see this over and over again, just like a great book.
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on September 30, 2002
I haven't seen John Duigan's preceding film ("The Year My Voice Broke") but Noah Taylor was obviously fascinating in "Flirting" as a dreamy misfit in a Nazi-like boarding school. Honestly I could hardly relate this British guy to the roles he later landed in such Hollywood movies as "Almost Famous", "Lara Croft Tomb Raider", "Vanilla Sky"... What an amazing evolution for a versatile actor.
The same fine performance that made this film deserve 5 stars was delivered by Thandie Newton who would also become a celebrity a few years later, starring with Tom Cruise in two blockbuster hits, "Interview With a Vampire" and "Mission Impossible II" (although her best film to me must be Bernardo Bertolucci's "Besieged"). Add an exceptionally talented Nicole Kidman who was actually 24 years old when she accepted this role of a teen, and you got a perfect cast to turn a not-so-sensational-coming-of-age love story into a nearly perfect romantic comedy. Oh yes, it should also be noted that Taylor, Newton and Kidman were not the only ones to work their way to stardom since this film was released in 1991. Among the girls of Cirensester school, have you noticed a Janet Odgers? That role was played by a young and pretty Naomi Watts.
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on January 18, 2000
Too tired of Hollywood's overdone coming-of-age fused + love themes? Well, Flirting, despite its superfluous title which almost misled me, is a complex film with a heavy touch of sincerity and authenticity. One of those rare films which really give the audience a creepy sensation of gaping at characters' on-going lives as if peeping from the small window of a dark room, the main "flirting" grows between 2 misfits from 2 worlds as distant as an all-boy school and an all-girl school sitting across a lake.
Wonderful acting here by Noah Taylor who breathes the air of a stuttering outsider--Danny Embling, a much teased "geek" who finds solace in mental superiority in a conformitist boarding school setting. Also, before moving onto bigger things such as Beloved, Thandie Newton portrays a fiery Ugandan beauty very much ostracised by her racist surroundings. What nourishes the feeble threat that first hold the two lonely hearts together is their shared vision of intellectual, political, as well as sexual freedom. An odd romance springs between the two as they carry on subtle flirting on debate teams, across the lake as DAnny rows to another midnite rendezvous, and eventually an exploration of the body that is by no means marred by its intensity.
Certainly without the banal lightheartedness of jovial teen movies made too frequently in the U.S., director John Duigan masters the art of manipulating an audience in this 1991 film, also featuring a young Nicole Kidman, brilliant in her pivotal role of a supressed head girl carefully protecting the fragile young love she senses Danny and Thandiwe. Dark and deep into youthful souls, Flirting brings to mind serious matters such as Uganda's Idi Amin years. Our star-crossed young lovers never whisper the sweet word "love" into each other's ears, yet through every touch and every glimpse, the audience is led into a sweet realm of love in its purest form w/out being tainted by physical emphasis, but rather decorated with lavish strokes of reality--Danny and Thandiwe's compromise between lust and respect.
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on July 19, 2004
I love this movie. It's a charming, delightful and wonderful little known gem. Thandie Newton is beautiful, Noah Taylor is endearing. A great script. One of the most romantic little films I've ever seen. Lets not forget Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts are also in this film.
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Despite the cover art on the DVD case, this excellent film doesn't star Nicole Kidman, although she does give a fine supporting performance -- no, the story belongs to Noah Taylor & Thandie Newton, as the two misfits at two boarding schools in the mid-1960s. And it's a lovely, very funny, poignant story of two similar souls finding one another, and experiencing the joys of first love together. Unlike too many American "teen films," it approaches sex with wonder, bemusement, a touch of uncertainty & and an equal touch of bliss. Loneliness is the undercurrent here, avoided by most of the students who have learned to fit in, but clearly affecting the more sensitive among them. And here's where Nicole Kidman's performance is so good: as an icy upperclass student, she reveals her own insecurities & very human longings in a touching scene of empathy with Thandie Newton, late in the film. In short, a tender & touching love story with two very real teenagers -- highly recommended!
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on October 28, 2000
This Australian film is a truly touching film regarding love and human passions. Thandiwe is a lovely Ugandan student in an all-girl's boarding school in 1965, and she has to deal with both the blatant racism she's confronted with and the political turmoil in her country. Danny is an Australian at the all-boy's school across the lake whom she develops an interest in, and then a relationship.
This film is about a lot more than clumsy sex among teenagers; it's about loss, honor, repression, and desires. It is indeed a very moving tale. And it features an early performance by Nicole Kidman in which she does a far better job than her later work.
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on February 5, 2002
Don't judge a video by its cover, or its title. That advice certainly applies to "Flirting", the story of an intellectual loner in an Australian boy's boarding school in the mid-1960s and his first romance, with a girl from the girl's school across the lake. The fact that she is from Uganda, daughter of a prominent political leader, adds additional depth to this story, which is already far better than 99% of teen love movies. Noah Taylor (as Danny Embling) and Thandie Newton (in her first movie role as Thandiwe Adjewa) are very good in their roles. Nicole Kidman also appears in a supporting role. The writing and direction are excellent, and the cinematography and editing also very good. The story ends abruptly, but sometimes life is like that.
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