Reviewed by: Chris

Boiling mud pools, a deranged car accident victim, a precocious teenager, and a wild-woman who constantly applies blood-red lipstick. With some excellent performances from three female leads, Crush should be a runaway success. Sadly, it veers off the highway and never achieves its full potential, even though it contains enough specimens of curious merit to will be bottled and studied by ardent celluloid pathologists.

Lane (Marcia Gay Harden) is visiting New Zealand with her friend Christina (Donogh Rees) to interview an award-winning novelist when their car comes off the road. Lane crawls out, but Christina needs a lengthy stay in intensive care and the make-up department before venturing out and confronting her pal who was driving.

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Lane, meanwhile, bonds with Angela (Caitlin Bossley), the author's 15-year-old daughter, before seducing the old man himself and convincing us she's not gay. Naturally, a few interpersonal tensions are in order and, if you can sit through nearly two hours of badly scripted, poorly edited, unbelievable waffle, you will eventually find out who's really got it in for whom. On the way, you can enjoy some of the largely irrelevant natural attractions of New Zealand - particularly Rotorua - at least if you can bear to miss the superior production values of the average tourist video.

Rotorua is a smallish city on New Zealand's North Island and a major tourist attraction. It is surrounded by volcanoes, lakes, parks, and the geothermal wonderland of geysers and boiling mud pools that Kiwis love so much - and is also a showcase for Maori cultural activities.

This makes it an obvious attraction for filmmakers, except that no-one apparently mentioned to them that some relevance to the story might have been a help. The opening credits linger on the bubbling mud pools, the camera loiters on the hot springs, but the script struggles to fit them into the plot.

Lane is an interesting character, a sexually ambiguous intruder that cares nothing about what others think, but although well played she appears to have fallen out of a different script - maybe an old film noir with a supercharged femme fatale; and the interaction between her and the other players is so lacking in chemistry as to be non-existent. Better handled, she would truly be a force that drains the others, but I remained unconvinced that they would really be drawn to her so easily and found I had to admire the intention more than the result.

"What do you do for entertainment around her?" asks Lane, in a tone that reminded me of a wild west anti-hero. If this is all that is on offer, the answer probably won't be "watching a movie".

Reviewed on: 17 Sep 2006
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A car crash sparks a warped love triangle.
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Director: Alison Maclean

Writer: Anne Kennedy, Alison Maclean

Starring: Marcia Gay Harden, Donogh Rees, Caitlin Bossley

Year: 1992

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: New Zealand


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