DVD review: The Road from Coorain

Title: The Road from Coorain
Running time: 97 minutes
MPAA: Not Rated
Release date: March 2, 2010
Studio: Acorn Media
Review source: Acorn Media

The Road from Coorain is a moving and emotional biopic about Jill Ker Conway, one of the most celebrated feminists in Australia. Jill’s childhood in the Outback of Australia in the 1940s proves breathlessly beautiful and extremely isolating. Jill is left to her own devices as her two brothers are sent away to boarding school. She works the sheep ranch with her father and learns to read from her strong-willed, outspoken mother. Jill learns to love the unforgiving land and also dreams of the unknown and faraway places by immersing herself in all the books her mom buys her. Jill’s mother, Eve [Juliet Stevenson], is English and seems to resent being stuck out in the Outback. Eve had been in surgical training when she fell in love with her husband and left that career behind for him. There’s definitely much resentment in that. Eve is a powerful, outspoken woman. Like most mothers, she wants her children to have more success than she ever did. Eve lives vicariously through her children. She verbally abuses Jill and tries everything to put her down and keep her from leaving home. Several catastrophes strike the Ker family. Jill [Katherine Slattery] is resilient but her mother falls to pieces and keeps Jill under wraps until Jill cannot take it anymore and finally breaks free. After attending the University of Sydney and graduating with honors she heads to Harvard to study history. Despite the tragedies in her past, Jill reaches out for independence from her mother and breaks from the bonds of Coorain. She’s highly intelligent and motivated and bound for great things. Ker Conway becomes the first female president of Smith College, publishes several memoirs and anthologies about impressive women. The Road from Coorain has lovely cinematography, an extremely talented cast and a riveting screenplay by Sue Smith that chronicles the independence of a brilliant and talented young woman.

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