Dallas Adair (Bernhard) is an independent golf coach who breezes into the lives of the Sommers family. She sets about seducing each of them in turn, and makes plans to buy their farm and turn it into a golf course.
Having received good critical notices for her debut feature Celia five years ago, Aussie director Anne Turner has since been preoccupied with TV work, screenwriting and a massively ignored second feature, Hammers Over The Anvil. This, though, should have brought her into the limelight again.
A deceptively bright comedy of manners set in a sub-David Lynchian suburb of Sydney, it mixes sly digs at American therapy culture, UFO paranoia and Japanese xenophobia with some neat sight gags and a galloping central turn from Miss Bernhard to form a satisfying enough night out at the flicks.
Bernhard plays the Dallas doll of the title, a forceful American drama queen and professional golf coach who insinuates herself into the lives of the Sommers' family after hitting town in a thunderstorm. She manages to seduce both mom (Longley) and pop (Gallacher) with her own very personal brand of golf therapy and works her way up to the top of the town council. Once there, she plans to buy out the Sommers' family farm and transform it into a golf course to make way for corporate Japan.
Despite its urges to sound off about multicultural society, the movie actually works best in its smaller, localised, less intense moments; in scenes such as where Dallas encourages a group of blue-rinse matrons to get down and dirty, or where she and Ma Sommers go shoplifting in search of cheap thrills. A smattering of surrealism and a corking UFO climax add to the distinctive flavour.
Odd in an entirely encouraging way, this is the kind of movie that should give Australian soap a good name.