The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce

Directed by Stephan Elliott
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
April 17, 2001

In this roaringly comic and powerfully affecting road movie, Terence Stamp gives one of the year's best performances. The British actor plays Bernadette, an aging transsexual traveling through Australia's red desert with two younger drag queens, Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Felicia (Guy Pearce), on a streetcar named desire. It's actually a bus named Priscilla, though Blanche in the Tennessee Williams play would recognize Bernadette's dependence on illusion and the kindness of strangers. Those are hard needs to fill in a place where most blokes don't thrill to a close encounter with men who lip-sync to disco hits in heels, glitter frocks and padded bras.

Once the toast of several continents, Bernadette is joining her friends on a grinding two-week bus trek to Alice Springs for a come-down gig. Writer and director Stephan Elliott doesn't ignore the bitchy fun inherent in the material. But he digs deeper, too. Mitzi has a wife and son stashed in Alice Springs, and Felicia knows just how to needle him about it. Weaving and Pearce are both splendid, but the film belongs to Stamp. In the rough towns, when the others wisely dress butch to avoid being insulted or beaten, Bernadette won't surrender her femininity. Stamp gives her a caustic wit and a touchingly beleaguered grace. There's not an ounce of flaming camp in the romance between Bernadette and Bob, the gentleman caller superbly played by Bill Hunter. It's the unspoken connections that give the wild and raunchy Priscilla a direct line to the heart.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »