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Friends Have Plenty to Say in Witty, Serious 'Talk'


Susan Lambert's ingenious and affecting "Talk" is a little gem of a movie, a witty and effervescent bittersweet comedy, shot through with humor and pain, that swiftly captures your attention and then involves your emotions as it gradually acquires depth.

It brings to mind in its jauntiness and vitality the comedies being made by women in Germany, most notably Dorris Dorrie.

Victoria Longley's Julia and Angie Milliken's Stephanie are old friends, thirtysomething collaborators on comic-book novels for adults. Stephanie arrives at Julia's sunny Sydney apartment to begin work but, as Julia is just back from a trip to Japan, they've got lots of catching up to do--more than either realizes.

What they discover in the course of the day is that neither woman fits the idealized picture each has of the other. Stephanie envies the breezy Julia's carefree single existence while Julia, all too aware of the ticking of her biological clock, craves what she believes is her friend's perfect life: a newly acquired house in the country with a man and their child. In different ways, however, both women are approaching a state of crisis.

In her feature debut, Lambert, a documentarian, and her writer, Jan Cornall, display a fine sense of proportion and balance: They know that their revelations are serious but not profound and that they're more effective played against humor; they also have the knack of keeping what in lesser hands could be a static basically two-character play consistently buoyant and cinematic.

They cleverly punctuate long stretches of dialogue with some live-action but cartoon-like fantasy sequences that emanate from Stephanie's tormented imagination and echo the graphic style of the women's novels.

Julia gets the film underway with an exuberant and clinical account of a near-tryst in Japan with an Englishman that has her hunky TV repairman (Richard Roxburgh) all but totally distracted from his work.

Indeed, a typically Australian candor in regard to sex characterizes the entire film, so capably carried by Longley and Milliken, both of whom manage to keep "Talk" from seeming too talky despite its reams of dialogue.

Roxburgh, in turn, more than upholds the Aussie tradition of good-humored virility.

* Unrated. Times guidelines: The film has much blunt talk about sex, some strong language and a steamy love scene.



Victoria Longley: Julia

Angie Milliken: Stephanie

Richard Roxburgh: Harry

A Filmopolis release of a Suitcase production in association with the Australian Film Commission. Director Susan Lambert. Producer Megan McMurchy. Screenplay by Jan Cornall. Cinematographer Ron Hagen. Editor Henry Dangar. Costumes Clarrissa Patterson. Music John Clifford White. Production designer Lissa Coote. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.

* Exclusively at the Grande-4-Plex in the Sheraton Grande Hotel, 345 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (213) 617-0268.

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