George Wadsworth (Barry Otto) is sent to work as head lighthouse keeper at South Solitary, a bleak island off the coast of Australia. He is accompanied by his spinster niece, Meredith (Miranda Otto), who keeps house and does some secretary work for him. The island is already inhabited by Harry Stanley, together with his rather inhospitable wife and children; and Jack Fleet, an ex-soldier left emotionally and psychologically scarred by WWI. Stanley and Fleet both work shifts at the lighthouse.
Meredith is sweet and friendly, but she has apparently been starved for affection throughout her life. Uncle Wadsworth, her only family is very crusty and undemonstrative at the best of times. Unsurprisingly, this leads to Meredith looking for love in all the wrong places, and making some major mistakes in her life.
Don't be put off by the first half of the film, which is very slow, and slightly depressing. The story doesn't begin to blossom until the last 40 minutes or so, but it's worth the wait.
South Solitary was filmed on location in Australia, at Cape Nelson and Cape Otway. I've been to the Cape Otway lighthouse, so I found it fascinating to see this beautiful place captured here on film.
There was some profanity in the dialogue, and one scene that I fast-forwarded through, as well as a couple of other scenes that were a bit uncomfortable to watch.
The verdict: a quietly beautiful film that will reward the patient viewer. South Solitary could have benefited from being half an hour shorter, but it is still more than worth sitting through. The film ends on a beautiful, uplifting note. Oh, and Tolkien fans will get a kick out of seeing Lord of the Rings alumni Miranda Otto (Eowyn) and Marton Csokas (Celeborn) reunited here.
I shouldn't close this review without mentioning the soundtrack, and of course the scenery, both of which are stunning. *** ff 12+ YT