Reviewbr> "I am disturbed at the sight of so much misery" - Elizabeth Harrington
Elizabeth Harrington has some standing in an unnamed penal colony Downunder, we assume it's Botany Bay but could be anywhere really. Anyway Ms Harrington is more than a little upset at the treatment of a group of female convicts, rape and humiliation being the order of the day. Following the arrival one evening of a ship from England, a double order of rum is issued to the redcoat guards and things get slightly out of hand, with Liz announcing her distaste at the treatment of women by shooting one of the drunken guards in a sort of maxtreme rhythm method protest.
Along with a group of female convicts Liz flees into the bush hoping to find some sort of idyllic lifestyle or some such. The Authorities, and in particular Captain McEwan believe Liz has been abducted by the female convicts, and the pursuit is on. The women make a friend in a koori women who teaches them how to live off the land in a sort of lesbo paradise. With McEwan closing in the scene is set for a clash between British values and nekkid chick freedom, or some such, the movie kind of lost it's way there.
Journey Among Women is proudly printed from a National Film and Sound Archive of Australia copy of the movie. For no apparent reason this exercise in how not to make a movie is held in high regard in Australia, which I guess explains the two disc, sensationally packaged deal Beyond Home Entertainment sent my way. It also makes you wonder if someone at the Aussie movie monitoring board isn't smoking something way too strong for them. To cut a long story into easily digestible chunks, Journey Among Women blows, and perhaps underlines the feeling amongst some sectors of the Aussie Industry that we need to feel good about local movies by putting anything with even a modicum of art on a pedestal regardless of how crap it really is. The Empire is wearing new clothes here, but at least it gives us something to laugh about.
Tom Cowan at least gets the historic accuracy happening, in amongst making the Angry Angry Beaver movie and hitting ozploitation through the goals for a major. So the clothes and props all look period authentic, though we can only guess at which period the movie is set in, and Cowan does catch the harsh nature of the English penal colonies Downunder where survival wasn't a guarantee for the new far fling edge of the Empire. That's about the last thing Cowan gets right as he pretty much films a weekend acting workshop of particular poor talent.
The acting in this movie is simply atrocious, no one can actually pull off an authentic performance and we the Audience are left to marvel at the sheer inanity of it all. There's a real feeling of people making a movie they thought was going to be all heavy themes and a poke in the eye at the then male dominated post colonial society. Unfortunately whatever was going to pass as feminist ideology got lost as Cowan failed in his Director chair to control the shoot, anarchy was a dish served warm on the set of this sheltered workshop, and it shows in the stilted performances that produce more wood than the surrounding bush could hope to contain. There's certainly some groaners to be had, the whole laboured point about needing a fire for new growth being the least of the themes to tread water before drowning not waving.
Cowan clearly had never heard of the concept of “pacing”, outside of the racing industry, while making his masterpiece. The first act of the fillum drags like a rainy day at the cricket in Hobart, while the second threatens to stretch from here to eternity, though the final block picks things up a bit though in an overtly artsy fashion. It's almost like Cowan lacked a number of crucial scenes so decided to overly stretch things out, inserting the odd nature shot, in order to get anywhere near a movie length outing happening. Slow doesn't come into it, glaciers move at a faster pace than this collection of poorly conceived movie out-takes.
The one thing Cowan does go with is more T&A shots than most porno movies could hope for. We're talking boobs at 2:05 into the movie, and then a gradually descent into full frontal beaver attack that will have the faint hearted reaching for the smelling salts. And just to ensure that the Rev. Fred Nile will be adding the movie to his collection, the lesbo thing gets a good meaningful run in places as well. Surprisingly the chicks dragged into this one thought they were making a feminist movie rather than one heck of an ozploitation outing! Not surprisingly Journey Among Women did pretty well at the box office back in the day, full frontal lesbos going the tong was clearly one heck of a drawing card for the Aussie punter back in 1977.
There's always a danger in hitting what the powers that be call “art” in Aussie movies, as invariably you are confronted with something that most other Countries with a cinema industry would leave gathering dust on a back shelf of the cutting room. Journey Among Women lived up to my low expectations in this regard, though I was shocked by the sheer volume of female nudity going down, leading me to dub the film “The Angry Angry Beaver Movie”. Director Cowan pretty much finished his Directing career with this atrocious attempt at making anything meaningful, though he did lens an episode of Survivor for no apparent reason. Quite frankly, even with the T&A, I was bored during Journey Among Women, though the final block did rouse some interest, till it was killed off in artsy shots. No recommendation, this one sucks the life out of the universe.