Two years following the death of his wife in New Guinea, Jack
meets a new love, Kate, an author in Melbourne. After a whirlwind
romance, Kate decides to return with Jack, but New Guinea
is not the idyllic paradise that she was hoping for. Tormented
by the memory of Rose, his dead wife, Jack's behaviour is
becoming increasingly erratic. As Jack's mental state deteriorates
Kate realises that her life is at risk...
To Have and to Hold (1996) was directed by John Hillcoat
and adapted by Gene Conkie, from his original novel. A well
known Australian director, Hillcoat had started his career
as a video director before directing the brutal, but well
received Ghosts... of the Civil Dead (1988) also with
Conkie and Nick Cave. His most recent work was The Proposition
(2005), written by Nick Cave and staring Richard Wilson, Guy
Pearce and Ray Winston.
Thematically this is quite old ground. The idea of a white
man being corrupted by a return to nature was better explored
in Peter Weir's Mosquito Coast (1986); the similarity
doesn't end there as both films make it plain that it isn't
the exposure to the jungle that drives the characters insane,
they were quite insane to begin with.
What should have been a tense psychological drama, a journey
into madness, like Apocalypse Now (1979), ends up as
quite a lacklustre affair. Tcheky Karyo, who plays Jack, does
what he can with the role, but the script is missing enough
back-story for us to really care less about what happens to
the character and when we get to the final reveal of what
really happened to Rose... her fate had been so well sign
posted that it comes as a massive disappointment to realise
that you had worked the whole plot out in the first twenty
I have no idea what happened to Rachel Griffiths, better known
for her role on Six Feet Under, who had acted so well
in Muriel's Wedding (1994). The poor dear seems to
have misplaced her emotional range somewhere, as her performance
seems to hardly rise above a monotone.
The supporting cast characters are drawn from a box marked
stereotypes, so we have the misogynistic Australians; actually
most of the males in the film are portrayed as misogynistic
to one degree of another. Kate can't even get rescued by the
local police, even when she tells them that she is being held
against her will, at gun point.
film is presented with only a stereo audio track and the slightly
soft print makes the film look older that it actually is.
There are no extras to speak of except the original theatrical
Ultimately, the film has too many weaknesses in script and
acting to make it a must buy.