THE ROAD FROM COORAIN
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An extraordinary coming-of-age story set in the vast Australian outback
Born in the 1930s on a remote sheep ranch in New South Wales, Jill Ker learns early to love the untamable land—and the allure of books. While her brothers attend boarding school, she stays at Coorain, working beside her beloved father and learning from Eve, her strong-willed mother. Theirs is a stoic family, but years of drought take their toll on Coorain and on the Kers. Jill endures several family tragedies, growing into a young woman of passion and ambition. But Eve buckles under the weight of grief, inspiring her daughter to break free and find her own way.
Winner of numerous awards, this visually lush, emotionally compelling drama is based on the celebrated memoir by historian Jill Ker Conway. Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) delivers an “invariably superb” (The Hollywood Reporter) performance as Eve. Also starring Katherine Slattery (Young Lions), Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!), and Tim Guinee (Sweet Land).
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Top Customer Reviews
Aside from the sweeping vista of salt-bush shown over the opening credits, a few shots of sheep, and a grassy track of road one gets the sense that most of this movie was shot on the backlot of some movie studio. An evocation of the windy outback which gives Coorain its name is largely missing. The storyline centres on interior shots of Jill and her Mother Eve. Her father who died when she was 11, (was it suicide), and her brothers are minor players in the story. A brother who died of snake-bite is dropped from the piece entirely. Uncle Angus, her Mother's brother (?) appears irregularly at meals and Alec (Conway), an American entrepreneur, figures prominently in the final third in some rather torrid love scenes.
What is made clear is the fact that this is a Man's world even though the story features two very strong women. The boys are sent off to boarding school, Jill is educated at home by her Mother. Her Mother may be the more astute business woman but Bill, her Father is deferred to while he lives and later her brother Bobby, who by his own admission is no station manager, is sent to run Coorain. A strong attachment to the land and identification with it is embedded in this family's psyche. The death of her brother Barry described by Jill as stunningly handsome in a road accident serves, more than the near failure of her station, to unhinge her Mother and reduce her to an attention-seeking wheedler who will do anything including break her own arm to prevent her daughter from leaving.
The Road from Coorain is more about the obstacles Jill faced than about a girl with a brilliant mind and strong will who overcomes adversity to succeed in the wider world.
In the movie Alec is portrayed as a married man with wife & 2 children. Gratuitous sex is thrown in to sell the DVD. Jill discovers she cannot rob other children of a father even though Alec proposes to divorce & come to Boston.
The acting is excellent and the scenery breathtaking but the book takes one on a journey of the soul. One of the book's themes explores Jill's discovery of her martyrdom to her mother's illness with Alec's insights. Sadly the DVD takes Jill Ker Conway, former President of Smith College, on roads she never traveled.
The story of Jill Ker (Katherine Slattery-"Young Lions") begins more about her mom Eve (Juliet Stevenson-"Truly,Madly, Deeply"). Evelyn Mary Ker began Jill on book-learning as a distraction while lancing her boil. Mom's a tough lady, plus loving, determined to make a life on a 30,000 acre arid sheep ranch. Drought and wars took it's toll on family, lives, and success eventually leading school in Sydney. There is tragedy.
Jill's determination, as rugged as the God-forsaken grassland of remote New South Wales, presses her drive toward exceptional scholarship in history. With Jill's increasing intellectual success comes a more demanding mother. Eve is also reliant on alcohol. Will a dysfunctional home end Jill's future success? Of course if you know the story of Jill Ker Conway you know the answer, if not the means. Will Jill be Outback-content or seek other books to learn from in other world places? Of course there is the up & down of romance in both the Ker women's lives.
A great story of a solitary child, abiding an emotionally-defendant mother, enraptured with knowledge, and experimentally free with life. A feminist without the intent to be such. A natural Queen of women. Acting in this Australian drama is well done making it very believable. Ideal since the story is true.
Watch is as drama, but in the entertainment you are rewarded with the educational aspect of an autobiography/documentary. Features include Conway bio, Stevenson filmography and...
I did not read the book, I just enjoyed the DVD.
If you like Aussie stories here's 2 more really, really good ones: