Explain how the Lantana motif is used as a metaphor and a prop in the film Lantana.

Essay by happyfarmer23High School, 12th gradeA-, August 2007

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Lantana is a tropical shrub with small colourful blooms that hide dense and thorny undergrowth. It grows profusely around Sydney where Ray Lawrence’s film of the same name is set. Within the film, Lantana, 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 represented by the image promoting the drama, the lantana shrub. Further, the image of the lantana represents the profound complexity of love and relationships, 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.

Lantana’s complex, interwoven plot examines four contemporary marriages within the context of a missing person’s investigation. Each dealing with its own specific challenges and heartaches.

The viewer is 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 daughter’s murder, two years prior. Two other couples, Jane and “Pete”, and their neighbours, Nik and Paula, are also drawn into the narrative. The thread connecting these protagonists, in some cases weak, but in others more 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 film, the lantana bush hides secrets...