Marital stress hangs like an albatross around the necks of all the primary characters in "Lantana," an viscous Australian ensemble piece that begins as an intricate, intimate web of rocky relationships and evolves into a tangled, disconcerting mystery.
Two floundering couples, connected through six-degrees-of-separation periphery, are at the center of the story. Anthony LaPaglia is Leon Zat, a police inspector who takes out his many frustrations on suspects and in bed with Jane (Rachael Blake), an almost-divorcee from the salsa dance class his wife drags him to every week. His marriage to brittle Sonja (Kerry Armstrong) has grown tepid and uncommunicative -- a fact that she regularly bemoans to her shrink, Valerie Sommers (Barbara Hershey).
Valerie is a woman who has had a hard time maintaining her professional detachment since her young daughter was murdered two years before. Her marriage to John (Geoffrey Rush), a prickly law school dean, has grown so numb since the loss of their child that they speak to each other -- even about sex -- like uneasy co-workers. And the fact that John deals with his sorrow in quietly tearful visits to the murder site while Valerie has chosen to grieve publicly, publishing a book about the killing, hasn't helped heal their rift.
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