His mother dead, PS lives in Sydney with working-class Aunt Lila and Uncle George. When he's six or eight, his posh Aunt Vanessa descends from England. Named a co-guardian by PS's feckless,...
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His mother dead, PS lives in Sydney with working-class Aunt Lila and Uncle George. When he's six or eight, his posh Aunt Vanessa descends from England. Named a co-guardian by PS's feckless, absent father, she asserts her rights and convinces Lila to have PS live with her weekdays. PS is happy at Lila's, playing with children, running about, speaking up. At Vanessa's, there's a regimen of private school, round vowels, piano and riding lessons, and lonely indoor play with fancy toys. He's miserable and when he objects, she sues for complete custody. Will anyone listen to him? And will he take on Vanessa's challenges to find out who he is and to love someone?Written by
One of three major film and television collaborations of actress Robyn Nevin and director Carl Schultz. The productions are the feature films 'Goodbye Paradise'' (1983) and 'Careful, He Might Hear You' (1983) and two episodes of the television mini-series 'The Dismissal' (1983). See more »
Careful, He Might Hear You - the novel by Sumner Locke Elliott (a thinly disguised autobiographical piece) - is a meandering, but still engaging, narrative of a six-year-old Australian boy, orphaned at birth with the death of his mother and an forever absentee father. The movie - beautifully rendered and magnificently acted - is an intelligently adapted work, condensed for enactment, to be sure, but still faithful to the evolution of the events. However, the subtleties of the character interactions - so vital to the novel - were largely glossed over in the film, and that is its shortcoming. True, produced in 1983 in Australia, it is the product of film-making 40 years ago when the emphasis was more on story and less on character. The film does its best to bridge that gap - what success there is in defining the relationships is excellently attempted by the actors - they did all they could with the script they were given - but in the end we see very little of the emotions which drew them together and yet tore them apart. It is these emotions which are the guts of the story.
The boy - "PS" as he has been dubbed by his dying mother, who saw him as a beloved post script to the end of her determinedly daring life - is set in 1930s Australia. PS lives with Lila and George, his mother's older sister and her husband, who see him as their own. Their circumstances are modest in the those Depression years, but they are managing. Back into their lives comes Vanessa, yet another aunt/sister (there are still even two more), who has been living in England as a companion to Ettie, their family's wealthy cousin. It seems that PS' missing father has been persuaded to assign "Ness" with a role in PS' guardianship. A tug of war ensues between Lila and Vanessa for PS' allegiance, and it is his eventual destiny that is the story's denouement.
The acting is superb. Wendy Hughes and Robin Nevin as Vanessa and Lila, are restrained where they could have cut loose. John Hargreaves, as PS' still mostly absent father, was nobly worthless, which explained so much. Nicholas Gledhill, in his first role, is brilliant - he carries the film. The technical contributions - direction, cinematography, sets, lighting, sound, costumes, make-up - are all first rate.
If one has not read the book, I am sure the movie - in the 1980s - would be satisfying. But this story deserves so much more. Today, it would probably be done as miniseries - freeing the writer to bring out the characters, their relationships and their emotions, all of which are vital to understanding PS' journey to find himself.
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