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Sirens (1993, Hugh Grant, Sam Neill)

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HUGH GRANT is an amiable young vicar newly arrived from Oxford in Australia in the early part of the century, who is promised a parish in Australia if he will do the church authorities one favour… The church has put on an art exhibition featuring the work of notable painter Norman Lindsay (SAM NEILL). However, Neill has contributed a piece called ‘Crucified Venus’ that has the painter’s voluptuous wife (PAMELA RABE) posing as Christ on the cross.

The churchmen do not want to censor Neill, but they want Grant to persuade him to substitute this scandalous work with something more acceptable. Accepting this mission, Grant and his wife TARA FITZGERALD set off for the Australian outback to track down and persuade Neill that an artist need not always scandalise. However, after several days travelling, when they arrive at Neill’s comfortable home, they discover that the artist is living in a virtual commune with his wife and several exquisite, scantily-clad models – ELLE MACPHERSON, PORTIA DE ROSSI and KATIE FISCHER.

Grant is not a prude, and Neill is not a hedonist (he believes that the female form can inspire so long as he does not indulge in sexual excess), however, the stage is set for a debate of the ethics of art versus the church. While Grant and Neill knock about the issues of censorship and sensibility, Fitzgerald, in the company of the models, is gradually discovering the sensuality of her own nature.

Introduced to the delights of nudity and the beauty of nature (as well as the attractions of blind handyman/Adonis MARK GERBER), Fitzgerald begins to experience a burgeoning sexuality that is quite at odds with the proprieties of her slightly stodgy husband. He. too, is experiencing the liberating effect of luxuriant countryside, seemingly sexually available women and the constant argument that one should wallow in sensuality. However, Grant has God on his side and is generally capable of resisting temptation. The biggest test he has to face, though, comes when his wife wishes to explore the pleasures of the flesh and he wants to return to a life of comparative sobriety….

production details
Australia | 98 minutes | 1993

Writer and Director: John Duigan

cast
Tara Fitzgerald as Estella Campion
Hugh Grant as Anthony Campion
Sam Neill as Norman Lindsay
Elle Macpherson as Sheela
Portia de Rossi as Giddy
Kate Fischer as Pru
Pamela Rabe as Rose Lindsay
Ben Mendelsohn as Lewis
John Polson as Tom
Mark Gerber as Devlin