Living in rural New South Wales, working-class single mother Rhia is struggling to evade debt collectors and raise three young daughters. The eldest, and hardened beyond her years, Lou ... See full summary »
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Roger Lloyd Pack,
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Living in rural New South Wales, working-class single mother Rhia is struggling to evade debt collectors and raise three young daughters. The eldest, and hardened beyond her years, Lou blames Rhia for the departure of her father, who walked out 10 months ago and hasn't been seen since. Mother-daughter relations hit bottom when Rhia takes in Doyle, her father in-law, who is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. 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. Written by
Palm Springs Internation Film Festival
Getting the portrayal of an Alzheimer's disease sufferer on screen is very difficult, as the disease can manifest itself in so many ways and the writer could be accused of milking it for comedic value if they're not careful. Some of John Hurt's antics in Lou sometimes verge on the edge of this territory, but thanks to his skill as an actor we are able to be convinced his unseemly outbursts are part of his condition, so the issue of insensitivity never arises. His ultimate triumph is getting ME to like him, as when he was foisted on this single mother of three children at the start just before Christmas (he's her estranged husband's father) and given the eldest daughter Lou's bedroom, my reaction was more or less the same as Lou's... NOT FAIR and GET RID OF HIM.
But, through a combination of his idiosyncratic behaviour and his seafaring stories, he is able to win her (and me) over, although the relationship becomes slightly worrying when he mistakes this 11 year old for his long-gone WIFE, and proposes to her. Fortunately, Lou takes it all in good grace and even wears the ring he gives her, but (understandably) her mum is slightly worries at this turn of events and forces her child to 'break it off'. This sparks a violent outburst from the afflicted old man, and an even deeper wedge being driven between mother and daughter. Lou decides to do a runner with her grandpa, but looking after a dementia sufferer on the road is harder than you think...
Alternating between humour and pathos, it features great performances from everyone, especially the very prettily named Lily Bell Tindley as the toughest pre-teen you'll ever likely to meet (Though in this kind of family, that trait is probably a necessity). As mentioned, John Hurt is completely disarming as the completely random but good-hearted pensioner, and his friendship with Lily's character forms the crux of the story. Reality has to set in eventually though, and when it is eventually time to say goodbye, we feel the people in the film have learned something, and we at home have too. Edutainment indeed... 7/10
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