Children of the Revolution features a host of great actors -- Judy Davis, F. Murray Abraham, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh -- and two extremely moving low-key performances by Geoffrey Rush and Rachel Griffiths. Just that cast alone can sustain a hell of a lot, and Children of the Revolution isn't shy about pitting them against one another.
The beginning and middle of the movie are deft blends of socio-political satire and personal drama, laughter and emotion. It's too bad that in the second half of Act 2 it takes a turn for melodrama. Given the calibre of the acting, it works (Griffiths plays especially nicely against Davis, and Rush -- his character increasingly isolated in the story -- is bewitching), but I wish there could've been more of a mix of the comic and the tragic near the end of the movie. The comedy wasn't so much forgotten (the "Ronald McDonald" bit, and the last interview with "Joe Welch" still hit the funny bone) as underweighted in the final parts of the story. The film deserves credit, nonetheless, for even aiming towards this complicated mix in the first place and succeeding 90% of the time. And the setups and subplots are brilliant -- Anna's Latvian background weaving into the Dave-Joan relationship; Welch's jealousy of Stalin; Joe's eventual megalomania; the cellmate and future assassin; even the final hilarious reveal about Anna and Dave was set up.
A small but bright gem, not easy to discover (the eye-popping video cover helped), but well worth the hunt.