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1902....the Australian Federation is a year old. Twelve year-old Tom's beloved father, Nat, has dragged him and his sister, Sarah, to an isolated farm at the edge of the woods. But Nat's dream of living off the land has died and he is losing his grip on sanity. When three ex-soldiers arrive at their cabin one night Tom, like his father, believes they are providence. But their presence becomes more menacing when one of them reveals a secret: he's found gold. As the lure of gold infects everyone around him the cabin becomes a psychological battleground in which Tom's loyalty is put to the ultimate test. Written by
Smoking Gun Productions
Nat was a teacher in London, but he has taken his young son Tom and his daughter Sarah to remote Australia. I would hesitate to use the word "Outback" because there are lots of trees. Nat recently lost his wife and the family is struggling (while Connolly, who owns all the land around, is doing quite well) but Nat always has faith that God will provide. Sarah is old enough to marry and she wants to leave, but Nat will not let her go because he needs her.
Three men who have fought in the Boer War show up. Jimmy is near death and his companions Henry and Carver feel very fortunate to have found shelter and the possibility they can save Jimmy's life. Nat is eager to help the group, and Sarah reluctantly nurses Jimmy back to health. But the men have other expectations and don't intend to leave just because Jimmy gets better. Henry wants to teach Tom to be a man, though Nat is reluctant for the boy to learn Henry's values.
When gold is involved, the family might be in danger, because Carver in particular can be violent if he wants something.
So will this family get out of their predicament?
There are a lot of strong performances here, particularly from Pip Miller as Henry and Toby Wallace as Tom. The writers do not give us nice pleasant solutions. In fact, they give us a number of moral dilemmas (including justifying cruel behavior because God says it's all right) and complicated situations, not to mention unexpected plot twists. If you're looking for a warm and fuzzy family film, look somewhere else.
One quality of the film stood out--regardless of his actions, Henry seems like a nice person a lot of the time, but he frequently proves that whether it was thew war or whatever, he's not nice.
Tom and Sarah are both strong and caring, though Sarah is like a lot of girls her age even today--she wants to get out of this place. Tom is not all that tough, but he seems open to learning to be.
Is it worthwhile? If you're looking for quality and not escapist entertainment, sure.
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