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McLeod's Daughters: The Original Movie - Australian television series DVD / made-for-TV movie DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Jack Thompson, Kym Wilson, Tammy McIntosh, Mercia Deane-Johns, Gary Heath
Director: Michael Offer   Distributor: E1 Entertainment
DVD release: 08 December 2009   Runtime: 90 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, DVD, NTSC
Features: Aspect ratio 1.33:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo - English), First two episodes of McLeod's Daughters: The Series

The Outback can be a brutal place, and building a financial empire by breeding and raising cattle there can be downright vicious. Ranches populate large portions of the Australian rural terrain, perfect for cattle farming and for living a life that is both beautiful and hard.

Drover's Run is idyllic in its setting and amenities, but the realities that lie beneath its polished beauty are heavy burdens for its caretakers. The ranch was both blessing and curse after Jack's wife left him, taking Tess and his heart with her. Even though he was blessed with young Claire from his first marriage, being unable to communicate with Tess was a heartache he could not heal.

With a rather short, and painful, reacquaintance into the family, Tess's plans to flee to Venice come to a screeching halt-Drover's Run financial stability has crumbled, and Jack needs her help to save it. Whether it's her role as the outsider looking in or her city girl perspective, she approaches things from an abstract point of view. Regardless, she's an unwanted enigma whom most of the male locals feel just needs to go.

Many unspoken issues create a barrier between the McLeod daughters, foremost among them jealousy, but perhaps if they move forward with open hearts and good intentions, they can clear the way for a productive effort at realizing their father's dreams and their own hopes. Maybe Drover's Run really does need both of them, and they each other.

The challenges intensify as the locals intend to render the family's efforts a complete failure. With help - and rascally maneuvering - from some unexpected quarters, those challenges just might be met and conquered. Drover's Run and all the McLeod's struggle to hold onto stand in danger of being taken away, but they will not let it go without the fight of their lives.

McLeod's Daughters was filmed against the Australian Outback's breathtaking scenery and settings. The top-notch visual effects and cinematography bring out the stunning surroundings, emotional dramas, and/or large action cuts simultaneously at work on the screen. With large herds of animals and various dialogue and action sequences, the potential for choppy visuals and poor sound is masterfully avoided - what a smooth film in both visual and sound.

Director Michael Offer masters the storyline, playing the drama to the right degree with the right characters and knowing when to pull it back. It's a pleasure to watch a drama that is mature in its approach and brings a feministic strength to a predominately male world. This is an inspirational film for women and a fantastic drama for the whole family.

This DVD edition of McLeod's Daughters: The Original Movie also includes the first two episodes from McLeod's Daughters: The Series, which springs from this original movie and its storyline. As the series draws to a close, the original movie's re-release fits the intense popularity the show has garnered worldwide over the years.
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reviewed by Sonia R. Polinsky
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