Performers lift sunny Aussie musical Bran Nue Dae 

Nue Dae Rising

Nue Dae Rising

Based on a hit 1990 stage play but set in 1965, the Australian musical Bran Nue Dae doesn't really have a memorable song in it, save for a sultry R&B reading of the evergreen "Stand by Your Man," and director Rachel Jenkins cuts the dance numbers so haphazardly the shots seem to have been slapped together at random. (Baz Luhrmann makes it look easy, or at least fun.) But when the actors open their mouths, they sing so joyously and openheartedly that the flat material starts to fizz.

The plot is a shambling picaresque with nods to the historical mistreatment of Aborigines, as bashful Willie (Rocky McKenzie, a movie-star name if ever I've heard one) spends the movie fleeing across the continent away from his cartoonishly stern boarding-school priest (Geoffrey Rush) and toward his love back home (Jessica Mauboy). But the actors seem lit from within when they sing, especially Ernie Dingo's rascally hobo and Missy Higgins' microbus-bound hippie — or maybe that's just the tropically warm cinematography by Babe / Lord of the Rings lenser Andrew Lesnie.



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