LGBT Info

Desperate Remedies is a 1993 New Zealand drama film directed by Stewart Main and Peter Wells. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

Plot

Set in "Hope, New Britannia", an overwrought nineteenth century New Zealand community seemingly on the edge of destruction, Dorothea Brooke (Ward-Lealand) is a shopkeeper and dress designer with a troubled past. She strives in vain to keep her feckless, opium-addicted sister Rose out of the clutches of her former lover, Fraser (Curtis). Dorothea is in a lesbian relationship with Anne Cooper (Chappell) but tempted by newcomer and former radical Lawrence Hayes (Smith). MP and war profiteer William Poyser (Hurst) wants her business and property to shore up his tottering career, through marriage. Dorothea, Anne and Lawrence become enmeshed in a tortured triangle, resolved when Lawrence agrees to marry Rose for convenience and to get her away from Fraser. Rose dies ravaged from her opium addiction, although Lawrence and Fraser have fought a battle on board a vessel as passengers and both are missing, presumed dead. Dorothea has been coerced into accepting Poyser in marriage.

Two years pass and Fraser returns, as does Lawrence. At an opera, a mise-en-abyme version of Fraser's sudden death is replayed – but the veiled female assailant turns out to be Anne, not Dorothea. Realising that Anne is her true love, Dorothea leaves Poyser to his fate, given the exposure of his financial mismanagement and gambling debts. Lawrence sees them off at the dock as they depart Hope, and Dorothea and Anne are last seen together at the vessel's helm, embracing and arm in arm.