A frank portrayal of a year in the life of a divorced mother living in Melbourne, trying to cope with her daughter and her own relationship with a drug addict while trying to get into the music business.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Noni Hazlehurst ...
Alice Garner ...
Harold Hopkins ...
Candy Raymond ...
Tim Burns ...
Christina Amphlett ...
Don Miller-Robinson ...
Lisa Peers ...
Cathy Downes ...
Justin Ridley ...
Pearl Christie ...
Vera Plevnik ...
Jamie Fonti ...


A frank portrayal of a year in the life of a divorced mother living in Melbourne, trying to cope with her daughter and her own relationship with a drug addict while trying to get into the music business.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Loving, hurting, caring, fighting, winning, losing, all part of ... Monkey Grip







Release Date:

17 June 1982 (Australia)  »

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Did You Know?


Breakthrough film role for actor Colin Friels. See more »


Martin: [to Nora] Were on the radio!
See more »


Referenced in Aqua Profonda (2004) See more »


Only Lonely
Written by Christina Amphlett & Mark McEntee
Performed by The Divinyls
See more »

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User Reviews

Unoriginal but touching and honest adult Aussie drama...
11 June 2012 | by (Salisbury, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Seems that Monkey Grip was seen to be quite a contentious film back in its day, its natural and often very revealing attitude to sex probably drawing in the wrong crowd, or at least for the wrong reason and the substantial junkie elements giving it an alienating edge.

Ken Cameron's 1981 film, that stars a very good and suitably natural Noni Hazlehurst and Colin Friels, is based on Helen Garner's semi- autobiographical novel and was highly praised by local critics, scooping an AFI (Aussie 'Oscar') best actress for Hazlehurst and nominations for cinematography, editing, supporting actress and Best Film.

Thirty odd years later and on another Continent, to a wider audience, how does it fare? The story isn't exactly a gripping one but a well-told one, that unfolds simply and for the most part remains interesting. Nora, a - early 30's ? - divorced mother of two pretty quickly falls for a ruggedly handsome bit actor, who is, unknown to her a heroin addict.

There follows a real, quite sensual sexual awakening for her but as his habit is quietly exposed (this is no Trainspotting!) she naturally finds this hard to take and as her dreams become ever more shattered, Javo's life becomes more chaotic and is arrested in Bangkok for theft.

Her personal quest to make it in the music business in her own right is an interesting sideline, but not the reason for watching the film. Those expecting sex, drugs and rock'n'roll actually do get all three, probably in that order but this is no typical rock lifestyle movie - it has depth, emotion and is essentially a decent drama that covers a number of people of varying interest and one that's decently involving.

As I said, it covers no new ground and should be targeted at those who want such and not an erotic junkie rock flick - those expecting the latter will be disappointed.

I watched the DVD as part of the 12 disc 'Australian Cinema Collection'.

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