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DVD Review: The Road From Coorain

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The Road From Coorain is based on the best-selling memoir by historian Jill Ker Conway and adapted by screenwriter Sue Smith (The Island). It is a brilliant coming-of-age story about the relationship between a mother and daughter. Winner of several awards, including the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Miniseries/Telemovie, The Road From Coorain was released on DVD March 2, 2010 by Acorn Media after being broadcast on PBS's Masterpiece Theater in 2002 and 2003.

Jill Ker (Katherine Slattery) was born in the 1930s on a sheep ranch in New South Wales, Australia in the middle of nowhere. Her brothers are sent to boarding school while Jill stays at Coorain. Her father teaches her to work and love the land while her mother teaches her to read, write, and love books. Jill's father Bill (Richard Roxbourgh) struggles against years of drought and his strong-willed wife, Eve (Juliet Stevenson).

After a tragedy in which Bill dies, Eve and Jill are left to deal with not only the ranch but each other. Eve refuses to sell the ranch or allow the boys to give up their education. Instead she chooses to move to the city, work two jobs, and give all three of her children an education. Her hard work pays off in that the ranch finally makes the family rich, but it comes at some horrible costs.

After the move, Jill throws herself into her school work and caring for her mother. She goes to college and becomes brilliant, but lacks the one thing she wants the most — her mother's approval. Jill struggles for years feeling trapped by a mother who will stop at nothing to keep Jill at her bidding. It all changes when Jill meets Alec Merton (Tim Guinee), her first love. Alec gives Jill the courage to want more and the strength to go after it.

Katherine Slattery (Young Lions) is fantastic as Jill. She brings an innocence that you can see in her eyes. As Jill grows you can see Slattery growing as well. Slattery expresses all the emotions with such a realness you feel as though you are watching your best friend go through all that she does. Your heart aches for Jill because Slattery has portrayed her as needing that pity and joy.

Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) is beyond magnificent as Eve. You physically hate her at times, that is how great she is. You can see in Stevenson's face the change as Eve goes from honey to vinegar. Some of Eve's antics seem so innocent were it not for the knowing look in Stevenson's eyes. I would fear her if she was my mother.

Both Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!) and Tim Guinee (Sweet Land) are equally great. Their parts, while small, are very important. These are the two men who shape Jill's life. Roxburgh is great opposite Stevenson. They have a chemistry and yet a fear that works well. Guinee is just as great opposite both women. With Slattery he shows a gentle side but with Stevenson he is able to be her equal. The Road from Coorain is a wonderful movie, but don't forget the tissues because I promise you will need them.

Included on the DVD is a biography of Jill Ker Conway and a filmography of Juliet Stevenson.

The Road From Coorain gives you all the emotions you could ask for. I laughed, felt joy, and cried right along with all of the characters. The brilliance of this movies shines while you watch as Jill grows from an unknowing young child into a knowledgeable young woman, learning how to understand not only herself but the world around her.

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