Well, The: Aussie Debut

“The Well,” Samantha Lang's Australian rural gothic offers a few twists and psychological insights, but is ultimately frustrating and undernourished picture.

Laura Jones's enigmatic screenplay is based on Elizabeth Jolley's Miles Franklin Award-winning novel about the relationship between two women: Hester (Pamela Rabe) and Katherine (Miranda Otto), brought to an isolated country house to help out around the house.

Hester, who has previously led a repressed life due to looking after her invalid father, begins a new life after his death. With a large cash fund, she moves with Katherine (Kathy) into an isolated cottage. One night, after a local dance, Kathy hits a man with their truck, and the two women bury his body in their well. From that point on, everything descends into chaos and madness.

An atmospheric movie, “The Well” is engaging for the most part, though occasionally it's heavy with symbolism. Hence, Katherine represents the life force, walking around barefoot and in a plain dress, with unwashed red hair and a smile both beatific and demonic. And it takes too long a time for the relationship to turn into something more meaningful and sexual, which we suspect from the beginning.