Plot: A mother, whose child was killed in a Dingo attack in outback Northern Territory, Australia, fights to prove her innocence.
A few months ago at work, I was finishing up a phonecall when the person on the other end of the line asked, “Why are you putting on an Australian accent?”. I was a little bewildered, as my striking resemblance to a young Nicole Kidman is the only aspect of me which comes close to being Australian. Admittedly, marathon viewings of ‘Kath & Kim’ and ‘Summer Heights High’ and the music of the Minogue sisters may have inadvertently ramped up the Oz factor.
Within this in mind, imagine my glee at convincing a friend to watch Meryl in a film where she has an Aussie accent. A whole two hours of opportunities to emulate every inflection and piece of Australian slang that comes out of Meryl’s mouth. Not only that, a film which contains such an undeniable part of Aussie pop culture that is second to only Charlene & Scott’s wedding, ‘A dingo ate my baby’; a phrase which has spawned thousands of slogan t-shirts, scenes in Seinfeld and musical inspiration for rockers from Sunnydale. The following clip features Meryl slipping into her irresistibly mimicable accent, while discussing the pressures of portraying a current public figure.
For the uninformed, in the 80s a baby was attacked by a dingo while on a family trip to Ayer’s Rock. Rather than being written off as a tragic accident, the baby’s mother Lindy Chamberlain had to spend the subsequent years defending her name against accusations of murder. At a worldly twenty-seven years of age, even I am a little too young to remember the court proceedings on television, which may have helped my enjoyment of the film. Court based films where you already know the result can drag a little, but A Cry in the Dark was well paced while fitting in all the intricacies of the case.
I’m told, “Don’t talk like you normally talk. Watch how you hold your mouth. You look too sour and crabby. Don’t get angry. Don’t ask too many questions, or they think you’re trying to be smart. And never, never, never laugh or you’re an uncaring bitch.” Well, I can’t cry to order, and I won’t be squashed into some dumb act for the public … or for you.
– Lindy Chamberlain
For some reason this film seems to be rarely mentioned when talking about Meryl’s classics. Of course Oscar-winning roles like Sophie’s Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer are in there, as are recent hits like The Devil Wears Prada and *shudder* Mamma Mia. A Cry in the Dark seems to have been forgotten a little, lost in the murky depths or Meryl’s tricky late 80s, early 90s period. Don’t let the questionable black bob put you off though, this is not only top grade Meryl but a fascinating story.