Lantana is a tropical shrub with small colourful blooms and hidden dense, thorny undergrowth. It grows profusely around Sydney where Ray LawrenceÃÂs film of the same name is set. Within the film, lantana is employed as a metaphor for the intricate web of relationships explored throughout. The lives of eleven individuals connect and intersect in a weaving, knotted mesh that is suggested at the outset by the epigraph promoting the drama, the lantana shrub. Further, the image of the lantana represents the profound complexity of love itself its, possibilities and variation, its capacity for betrayal and for affirmation. As well as its symbolic application, the image has a significant function in terms of the narrative and its deliberate recurrence is a critical element in the story.
LantanaÃÂs complex, interwoven plot examines four contemporary marriages within the context of a missing personÃÂs investigation. Each one of thee is dealing with its own specific challenges and heartaches.
We are introduced to Leon and Sonja, whose marriage is under considerable pressure: Leon is having an extramarital affair while his wife, who does not yet know of his adultery, is seeking counseling. Her therapist is Dr Valerie Somers whose own relationship with her husband, John, has been profoundly compromised by the tragedy of their young daughterÃÂs murder, two years before. Two other couples, Jane and Peter, and their neighbours, Nik and Paula, are also drawn into the narrative. The thread connecting these protagonists, in some cases tenuous, in others intimate, is reinforced by the lantana bush. The tangled branches of the shrub act as a metaphor for the intertwined relationships under scrutiny and underscore the variable, often impenetrable, aspects of love. Like the lantana shrub itself, love is portrayed as beautiful but also dangerous.
Throughout the text, the lantana bush hides secrets...