This is one very 'different' film. The pre-publicity prepares one for a tough hour-and-a-bit. It starts slow, and one wonders whether the story can be told in the short time left. We have a family, short of a dad, living on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. It's sugarcane country, backed by Mount Warning, the conspicuous mountain named by James Cook in 1770. The family is poor economically, but strong in spirit. We are introduced to the three girls, eldest 12, early in a line-up. This line-up is repeated from time to time and at the finish of the film. The girls are obedient, which makes them, perhaps, less than normal. But mother preserves the family's functionality with discipline against great odds. The odds seem greatest when the family is stuck with the grandfather, suffering with Alzheimers. It is obvious that Lou, the eldest girl, is to be the leader in the drama, and Doyle, the declining elder, is her foil. Does this work? Well, there's an old stage rule: never appear with children or dogs. The children win hands down with the mother appearing to be helpless. Doyle finishes up happy, and Lou, resilient in her youth, recovers from her disappointment. The cinematography is lovely, with rock-steady camera work, but not relying too heavily on the magnificent landscape of the Tweed Valley. Yes, a filmmaker can tell a story in under an hour-and-a-half!
Living in rural New South Wales, working-class single mother Rhia (Emily Barclay) is struggling to evade debt collectors and raise three young daughters. The eldest, and hardened beyond her years, Lou (Lily Bell Tindley) blames Rhia for the departure of her father, who walked out ten months ago and hasn't been seen since. Mother-daughter relations hit bottom when Rhia takes in Doyle (Sir John Hurt), her father in-law, who is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Doyle turns Lou's initial hostility around with exciting tales of his South Seas adventures. But coursing deepest in his mind are fractured memories of Annie, his late wife. Before long, Doyle "sees" Annie in Lou and imagines he is courting her all over again.—Palm Springs Internation Film Festival
March 18, 2023 at 02:22 AM