Dead Calm (1989)

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Dead Calm is a 1989 Australian psychological thriller horror film directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane. The screenplay by Terry Hayes was based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Williams; the film represents the first successful film adaptation of the novel after Orson Welles struggled for years to complete his own film based on it titled The Deep. Filmed around the Great Barrier Reef, the plot focuses on a married couple, who, after tragically losing their son, are spending some time isolated at sea, when they come across a stranger who has abandoned a sinking ship.

The film was one of the final projects Nicole Kidman worked on in her native Australia before achieving mainstream international success with 1990's Days of Thunder. Dead Calm was generally well received, with critics praising Neill, Kidman, and Zane's performances and the oceanic cinematography, although some reviewers criticized elements of the script for being too sensational and the film's ending (Warner Brothers requested that it be reshot to provide a less ambiguous resolution for one of the characters) for being too over-the-top. Modern reviewers have tended to assess it even more favorably, with The New York Times naming it one of the 1000 best films ever made.

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