Based on Dorothy Porter's acclaimed novel-in-poetry, this Australian production casts Porter as dyke dick Jill Fitzpatrick, whose latest missing-person case takes her into the seedy underbelly of Sydney's poetry scene. That's a good joke, played relatively straight. The search leads to the missing girl's poetry teacher Diana Maitland (McGillis); their shy, sly flirtation is nicely caught. The love story is allowed time and space, and the two fine actresses work well together. Close-cropped Porter just about comes up to McGillis' statuesque shoulders. The former is apparently more wordly-wise, but the older woman is really in the driving seat emotionally. McGillis' cool intellectual poise quite unbalances her more forthright lover. A shame, then, that the mystery is a bit ho-hum, and that director Lang fails to ratchet up the suspense in the crucial final third. Ultimately, what should have been sparky and unsettling comes off a bit flat and routine - at least, as routine as a literary lesbian private-eye thriller could ever be.
The Monkey's Mask
Cast and crew