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Emerald City (1988, John Hargreaves, Nicole Kidman)



Quite possibly Australia’s foremost playwright David Williamson here adapts his own 1987 play Emerald City for a look at the inner life of a well renowned Australian screenwriter who feels his life is in free fall.

John Hargreaves (something of a favourite of Williamsons down the years having been in lots of his productions, most notably Don’s Party) plays Colin who has just moves his family from Melbourne to Sydney in search of fresh challenges only to find that the project he agrees to work on is not what he hoped for, meanwhile his wife, a book editor, is having problems of her own with a book she is trying to publish by an Aboriginal writer. He is also having trouble with his children. His problems are further enhanced when his co-writer on his latest project, Mike McCord, buys fully into the American angle, breaks into Hollywood and hits the big time.

There are changing relationships, some well timed side swipes at the Australian film and television industry and its 1980’s move towards an American ideal. A telling point is made when one of the characters remarks that Sydney is like the Emerald city of Oz a place people are convinced can solve their problems only to find them compounded.

The cast is highly impressive too, besides Hargreaves it also features Robyn Nevin, Chris Haywood (another williamson favourite), the brilliant Ruth Cracknell and a pre major-stardom Nicole Kidman. Williamson’s dialogue is always very choice and pertinent. You do also feel, rightly or wrongly, that you are gaining something of an insight into Williamson’s own life.

production details
Australia | 92 minutes | 1988

Director: Michael Jenkins
Script: David Williamson,

Nicole Kidman as Helen McCord
John Hargreaves as Colin Rogers
Chris Haywood as Mike McCord
Robyn Nevin as Kate Rogers