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Thomas is turning 16. His dad's in the army and they've just moved to a town in New South Wales; his mom is pregnant; his older brother, Charlie, who's autistic, has his own adolescent sexual issues. Thomas finds Charlie an embarrassment in public, so when Thomas is attracted to Jackie, a girl in his swim class, Charlie presents any number of obstacles when she drops by their house, when the three of them go for a walk, and during a family birthday dinner. Can Thomas find a way to enter the world of teen romance and still be his brother's keeper, or is Charlie's disability going to prove more than Thomas can handle? Written by
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This true to life film is a inside glimpse into a family that is, at its core, held together by the mother. Toni Collette plays the mother of an autistic son. Her performance is real and a driving force in the film. Her autistic son Charlie is a trial for the entire family and for his mother, whose life is so static and day in day out, she has come to accept Charlie for the person he is and she does this through simple love.
At the center of the story is the other son, Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) and his burden of keeping his brother Charlie a secret and his further burdens of family life. When father Simon is away from the home it is Thomas who tries to run the household. Charlie is played by Luke Ford who gives a wonderful performance (remember him from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor). Their family struggles with bouts of seeming normalcy and shocking bits of harsh truth and bitter reality.
Thomas develops a strained relationship with a girl that is nice to him. This girl, Jackie (Gemma Ward) is striking and upon making it clear that she likes Thomas finds that he doesn't know how to deal with this. Both solid performances by Gemma Ward, a model, and Rhys Wakefield with his truthful, from the gut acting.
Written and directed by Elissa Down, who has two autistic brothers in real life, obviously brings her experiences to bear and is innately able to bring pressure to this trouble torn family while bringing out some very emotional love. The winner of this film is Toni Collete whose acting through the turmoil is completely convincing. The acting together with a strong script really make this a movie worth seeing.
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