Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
A fragrant tropical flower of a film, Ben Hackworth’s Celeste celebrates the vitality of a woman who has lived for love and music as she takes stock of her life. A radiant Radha Mitchell mesmerises in the title role, confronting early retirement from opera stardom and a tangled relationship with her roughhewn stepson (Thomas Cocquerel). The decadent splendour of North Queensland’s Paronella Park, a neo-Gothic folly built in the 1930s, provides an unforgettable setting.
“The lush tropical greenery of Australia’s north-eastern reaches makes a resplendent backdrop in Celeste, but it’s Radha Mitchell who blooms in this admirable, affecting and operatic drama… Co-writing the script with the late Australian actor and playwright Bille Brown, Hackworth demonstrates sensitivity in fleshing out Celeste’s complicated central relationship… always taking the time to revel in the emotional details. It’s an approach that gives the film’s characters room to grow, and its performances along with them, immersing the audience in a heady mix of loss, love, loyalty, redemption and deep-felt yet ever-shifting bonds.” — Sarah Ward, Screendaily