"In the 1930s, an artist and his models scandalized a nation with their controversial paintings. For a young couple, meeting them was the experience of a lifetime."
is a 1993 drama film starring Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald and Sam Neill. It is set in Australia during the two World Wars and follows a British Anglican priest (Grant) and his wife (Fitzgerald) on holiday in Australia and asked by a bishop to visit the artist Norman Lindsey (Neill) when his paintings have been declared too vulgar and offensive to be used in an exhibition. When visiting the artist's home, the couple are baffled and almost attracted by the free and loose ways that Lindsey's models flaunt their sexuality. The film acts as a study into the psyche of Estella's mind as she fantasizes and begins to act on her impulses.
This was one of three films that brought Hugh Grant to the attention of American audiences. Also features Portia De Rossi in her film debut, and supermodel Elle MacPherson
"Be seduced by these tropes":
- Actor Allusion: Beautiful Australian supermodel Elle MacPherson plays Sheela, a, well, beautiful Australian model.
- Acceptable Feminine Goals: Played straight with Sheela and Giddy who wish to be an artist and actress respectively. Averted with Pru who wants to be an aviatrix.
- All Just a Dream: Estella assumes her midnight lovemaking session with Devlin is this. She's wrong.
- All Women Are Lustful: Rather the film puts across the message that all women should be lustful.
- Alpha Bitch: Sheela seems to show traits of this.
- Billing Displacement: Elle MacPherson is on the film's poster next to Hugh Grant despite her character being about fifth in terms of importance. The actual other leads Tara Fitzgerald and Sam Neil aren't on the poster at all.
- The film was promoted to a degree on the fact that MacPherson, best known at the time for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, is nude in it.
- Bitch Alert: Pru and Sheela.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: All of the models, with Rose and Estella included that adds two more brunettes.
- British Stuffiness: Hugh Grant's character, coupled with being a minister. Subverted in a way when we see that the people in the Australian town are like this as well, judging by their attitude when Lindsey's models walk into the bar.
- Christmas Cake: Averted. Rose is well into middle age and yet still models for her husband's paintings.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The models. Pru and Sheela are always shown in bold and bright colours to reflect how open they are about their sexuality while Estella is shown in softer and more subdued colours to reflect how repressed she is. Giddy is shown in a lot of white to reflect her innocence.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Anthony is worried about Pru and Sheela doing this to Giddy. When Giddy poses nude he appears very sad about it.
- Costume Porn
- Enthralling Siren: Sheela and Pru act as these to Estella and Giddy with regards to their sexuality. Giddy references the Sirens themselves and tells Anthony and Estella about them.
- Fan Disservice: The scene where Estella imagines herself naked in the middle of the Church. It's hard to get off to it when you see her so terrified and trying to cover herself up.
- Fanservice: There are a lot of gorgeous naked women in this movie.
- Fiery Redhead: Sheela.
- Growing Up Sucks: A variation that also serves as a deconstruction. Anthony believes in a woman's innocence and virtue such as with Giddy and Estella, and he is notably very sad when Giddy decides to pose nude. However the film portrays this as a natural thing. Embracing sexuality is used as positive character growth.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Giddy is blonde haired and the most innocent of all the models.
- Happily Married: Rose and Lindsey. Anthony and Estella too, and really happy by the end.
- Imagine Spot: Several.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art
- Latin Lover: Devlin.
- Letting Her Hair Down: A variation where Estella's bobbed hair is usually shown drawn back behind her ears but when she discovers herself in the painting it's much looser reflecting her new attitude.
- Madonna-Whore Complex: Deconstructed. Rose and Lindsey discuss how Pagan religions praise sexuality but the Christian church made it into a shameful thing and how it is used to make women second-class citizens. Giddy and Estella view Pru and Sheela as Whores for how they act but the film has the two of them coming to embrace their own sexuality. It's seen as a sign of positive growth when they do so. It also briefly shows that Pru and Sheela are annoyed with the way the village people look down on them.
- Meaningful Name: "Giddy" is certainly very much so. "Sheela" is also an Australian slang word for an alluring woman.
- Mood Whiplash: A soft and calm daydream sequence in the church gets immediately jolted into a different mood completely when Estella imagines she's naked in public.
- Nipple and Dimed: Subverted in-universe where the church doesn't necessarily mind the nudity in Lindsey's paintings, only when it's coupled with other controversial subject matter.
- Truth in Television - at the time, nudity in paintings was fine for fairies, nymphs, goddesses, angels etc. However regular women being painted nude...big no-no.
- Obfuscating Disability: The blind handyman can see.
- Old Maid: Despite being married, Estella fits this quite close since there is no passion in her marriage.
- Rapunzel Hair: All the models, Norman's wife included. Presumably this is to contrast with Estella's bobbed hair to show their freer personalities.
- Really Gets Around: Sheela, according to Giddy.
- Rule of Three
- Running Gag: Subverted. Sheela and Giddy say their fathers were killed by sharks. When Pru starts to talk about her father's death, Estella assumes it was a shark as well. It was a boating accident. This starts a second gag however as both Pru and Sheela only ever found missing limbs of their fathers.
- Scenery Porn
- Shrinking Violet: Estella. Also discussed by Anthony and Lindsey. Lindsey himself admits that he is one and that he hides in his own fantasy world of his paintings.
- Swing Low Sweet Harriet: Lindsay has a swing; the models use it.
- Tomboy: There's one scene where the village boys are shown playing in the river with a tomboyish girl.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Devlin.