Friday March 23, 2001
It's weird, wacky territory you enter in "The Price of Milk," and we don't just mean New Zealand. Some of the movie's symptoms are what you might call overt--the agoraphobic dog, for instance, who moves around under a cardboard box. And others are more subtle--the fact that the unshaven, overage farm boy Rob (Karl Urban) knows each of his 117 milk cows intimately, by number.
With its opening credits unfurling on the folds of a quilt--one that's being fought over by the sleeping Rob and his equally unconscious lady love, Lucinda (Danielle Cormack)--"The Price of Milk" has a decidedly Down Under sense of knucklehead humor and self-deprecation. Lucinda and Rob live in an idyllic paradise, if your idea of idyllic paradise is a stripped-down '64 Oldsmobile. Their ramshackle home wouldn't pass muster in any of your better trailer parks; when they bathe, they share the bathwater with the dinner dishes.
On the other hand, they have miles of open New Zealand land to chase each other around, leaving trails of clothing strewn across their open-air boudoir. Life is good--so good it's got to go wrong. And although there's clearly no evidence to back her up--in fact, she and Rob have just become engaged--Lucinda confides to her friend Drosophilia (Willa O'Neill) that she's afraid the spark's gone out of the romance.
Drosophilia, who has ulterior motives, tells her to start a fight with Rob--nothing like a fight to stir the embers of romance, you know. But when Lucinda runs over a magical neighbor woman known as Auntie (Rangi Motu) who wants the quilt and the cows, there's not just trouble in paradise, but also a herd of missing cows.
Employing a casual way with the supernatural and a score that might have been lifted from a David Lean movie, director Harry Sinclair concocts a movie that's silly but sincere. "Take her away and set fire to her pajamas," Auntie tells her nephews, when Lucinda tries to steal back her quilt. "Make it look like an accident." "The Price of Milk" is like having your pajamas set on fire. And it's no accident.
The Price of Milk, 2001. PG-13, for drug use and sensuality/nudity. A Lot 47 Films Release. Director Harry Sinclair. Producer Fiona Copland. Executive producer Tim Sanders. Screenplay by Harry Sinclair. Cinematographer Leon Narbey. Editor Cushla Dillon. Costume designer Kristy Cameron. Production designer Kristy Cameron. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. Danielle Cormack as Lucinda. Karl Urban as Rob. Willa O'Neill as Drosophilia. Michael Lawrence as Bernie. Rangi Motu as Auntie.