A disillusioned son's trip home is complicated when ten years of family secrets explode over one weekend.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan McIver ...
Nathan McIver ...
Brendan Cowell ...
Blazey Best ...
Henry Brennan ...
Altar Boy
David Mealor ...
Susie Collins ...
Attendant at Servo
Sean Brand ...
Kissing Couple
Natalie Tricker ...
Kissing Couple


A disillusioned son's trip home is complicated when ten years of family secrets explode over one weekend.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

weekend | trip | ten years | secret | home | See All (66) »


Everything changes... except family.





Official Sites:



Release Date:

2008 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

10 Empty  »

Box Office


AUD 1,400,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The meaning of the title "Ten Empty" refers to the number of canvasses the mother is given to paint as part of her psychological cognitive therapy. When given to her, they are ten empty canvasses. See more »


A glass of beer appears in Ross's hand during his drunken scene, just after he has tried to get Elliot to play the piano. See more »

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User Reviews

Empty it Out, Pick up the Pieces
29 October 2008 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Ten Empty (2008) ***1/2

In my review of Fireflies in the Garden I railed against what I felt was that films lack of originality. I termed dysfunctional family dramas a 'dime a dozen.' While in retrospect I think that term was not the best, especially in comparative terms to the prolificness of say slasher flicks or gross-out comedies. I stand by it though because like slasher flicks or nasty teen comedies, dysfunctional family dramas tend to stick to the same dogmatic formulas. Now that is not always a bad thing. Sometimes formula is formula for good reason, and sometimes it just takes style to transcend the formulaic.

Ten Empty, a small export from Australia is something of an exception to Fireflies in the Garden. Although its not anything totally unique in terms of structure, it is in a way fresh in the subject matter and execution. Eliot (Daniel Fredricksen) returns to his small town home for his father's new son's baptism. He's moved away to Sydney, become a success in the luxury pen making business (made from the material of Porches no less) and distanced himself from his families lifestyle and past. Although he is the lead in the film, the picture does not make him any kind of hero per-say. When his father offers him a beer, he remarks that he only drinks red wine. He wears fancy clothes to everyone else's old t-shirts. He is something of a quiet snob. His father resents his poshness and exodus from the family. He resents that he doesn't drink his beer, but then again he's something of a drunk.

The family is dysfunctional, but unlike most other dysfunctional family dramas, it's for good reason, not just the sake of volatility. Eliot left after his mother, suffering from bi-polar, committed suicide. He found her body. In the years since then, his father has married her sister, Diane. She's rot with Catholic guilt for her transgressions against her sister, and seems genuinely caring, but ultimately alienated to the outside looking in, shamed and hurt by her husband's clearly continuing love and pain over his deceased wife. Eliot's younger brother, Brett, remains in his room for much of the first act. The film only slowly reveals why. He too is now beginning to suffer from some form of mental illness.

That is what lies at the heart of the family's dysfunction - their inability to cope with with such illness. They fear he's going the same way as his mother, but the father is determined that he can take care of it himself. Eliot points out that it didn't go so well with his mother. The father resents the illness of his son, and can't come to terms with his condition. After a disastrous incident, Eliot wants to have Brett sent for help with professionals, but it costs money, lots of money, money that the father does not have.

Where Fireflies in the Garden was a solidly crafted film based on what was I think ultimately misguided screenplay, Ten Empty is a strongly performed film with a solid base. There are instances which seem misjudged or unnecessary, maybe even confused, but as a whole it is strong. It's carried by its performances, all of which are very good. Fredricksen is very good, but especially good is Geoff Morrell as the father. He plays his character with shockingly misguided attempts at discipline, and often displays his scorn and dismay on his sleeve. But at the same time makes it known that he's the way he is because of the way things are. When he's cruel, its precisely because he simply cannot cope. There are a number of supporting players as well, including a bartending family friend, and a woman from Eliot's past, highlighting that though he's become posh, he's not really left but simply run away.

The family, though resentful and scornful, is clearly full of love for one another. The memories of a life once lived makes the reality of the present that much harder. This is a dark movie, peppered in a realistic fashion. It has very few moments of lightness, but it nevertheless finds a crack of light in a dark room

6 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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enough with the brothers mannoe
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