March 26, 1979 12:00 PM

Obviously designed to ride the crest of interest created by his Last Wave, this 1976 Peter Weir film (that’s Weir, as in weird) is also now getting its U.S. release. Picnic is the largest grossing picture in Australian history, which says something—it’s hard to tell what—about the moviegoers Down Under. It is the supposedly true story of three schoolgirls and a teacher who disappeared without a trace on Valentine’s Day, 1900. Weir has not so much photographed this tale as painted it onto the screen with rich, luxurious brush strokes reminiscent of Elvira Madigan. At times, however, the pace is so languid it borders on listless, and much of the meaning seems to lurk just below the surface, The players aren’t at fault. Veteran British actress Rachel Roberts is appropriately stern as the school’s headmistress, and Anne Lambert gives a stunning performance as one of the ill-fated girls. Without revealing the denouement (or lack thereof), suffice it to say it’s unsatisfying. Weir makes beautiful and daring movies, but this one is longer on style than substance. (Unrated)

You May Like

EDIT POST