Picks and Pans Review: Sirens

updated 04/11/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/11/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Hugh Grant, Sam Neill, Elle Macpherson

Grant's gentle, diffident appeal can be seen to much better effect in the British romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, but anyone interested in a showcase for supermodel Macpherson's statuesque form need look no further than this British-Australian production, in which she plays an artist's model. She is not exactly draped in furs.

Grant, as a cleric just arrived at his new post in 1930s Sydney, is dispatched by his bishop to persuade a notorious local painter (Neill) to remove a profane drawing—a naked Venus on the cross—from an upcoming exhibit. Grant and his sexually repressed wife (pale, pretty Tara Fitzgerald) spend several days with Neill, his family and his three models, who are unabashedly Bohemian and given to filmy clothing, naked swims, strip poker with the local boys, and so on.

Director-writer John Duigan seems to mean for this to be a sort of leafy paradise of the libido, and Sirens does have its lulling, sensual moments (even the soft Australian light has a sexual shimmer). But just as often—most notably when Fitzgerald fantasizes about being massaged by the models—it crosses the line into something like bare-breasted kitsch. Oh those Australian Bohemians! (R)

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