By Rob Blackwelder
Dysfunctional family dramas are a dime a dozen, but this Australian import -- about three troubled grown brothers coming to terms with the fact that Alzheimer's disease is turning their callous, imposing father (Ray Barrett) into a vulnerable, helpless old man -- rises well above the soapy standard fare.
Director Brendan Maher delves inside the father's fracturing mind very effectively (with a disorienting mix of characters and set elements from past and present) as he gets lost in terrifying memories of World War II battles and painful recollections of love lost. But it's his diverse and vividly fleshed-out sons who drive the story, played with equal depth and devotion by Samuel Johnson (the youngest, distressed by his failed family peacekeeping), David Wenham (an reticent architect oblivious to trouble in his marriage) and the always-terrific Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith in the "Matrix" movies) as the eldest, a washed-up minor 1980s rock star emerging from a 20-year wreck of cynical self-destructive egotism, but still holding a justified bitter grudge against the old man.
The potent Catherine McClements and the wonderful Rachel Griffiths ("Six Feet Under") round out the cast as Wenham's unhappy wife and Weaving's first-ever over-25 love interest, a struggling cafe owner with a stingingly dubious teenage daughter.
Edited down to 103 minutes from its TV-movie run time of two hours, "After the Deluge" has a few moments of contrivance (e.g. Weaving being tempted by a younger woman), but its deeper themes of finding meaning in one's life resonate through its palpable humanity.
***1/2 out of ****
(103m | R)