© 2000 John Swimmer Productions

The Price of Milk (2000)

The Price of Milk is simply a lovely film that is very much a part of New Zealand cinema in its quirkiness, at the same time seeming to belong to the South American brand of magic realism, as well as Russian traditional folk tales. The story starts with Lucinda (Danielle Cormack) and her fiancee Rob (Karl Urban) living a quiet, idyllic life on their dairy farm in rural New Zealand. When Lucinda fears the spark is going out of their relationship, her best friend Drosophila (Willa O’Neill) advises her to start an argument with Rob in order to add a little tension. Lucida begins to pull pranks, including ruining a $1,500 vat of milk by taking a swim in it, all of which fails to anger Rob, as he is so crazy about her.

Meanwhile, Lucinda’s prized quilt disappears during the night, and when she discovers a Maori woman and her team of golf playing nephews is using her quilt, she swaps Rob’s cows for it. Rob is quite literally left speechless, and leaves her. It is at this point that the story turns to magic realism, with several beautifully filmed shots symbolizing Lucinda being dragged down by her problems. The quilt takes on a special significance as it moves back and forth between Lucinda and the Maori woman. The parallel to Russian folk tales, with an old woman met by chance in the woods attempting to teach a moral the hard way is underscored by the soundtrack, selections from Anatol Liadov, Nikolai Tcherepnin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

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