7 user 4 critic

The Fringe Dwellers (1986)

PG | | Drama | October 1986 (USA)
Story of an aboriginal family who tries to move out of the fringe into the main white community.


Bruce Beresford


Bruce Beresford (screenplay), Rhoisin Beresford (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Kristina Nehm ... Trilby Comeaway
Justine Saunders Justine Saunders ... Mollie Comeaway
Bob Maza Bob Maza ... Joe Comeaway
Kylie Belling Kylie Belling ... Noonah Comeaway
Denis Walker Denis Walker ... Bartie Comeaway
Ernie Dingo ... Phil
Malcolm Silva Malcolm Silva ... Charlie
Marlene Bell Marlene Bell ... Hannah
Michelle Torres Michelle Torres ... Audrena
Michele Miles Michele Miles ... Blanchie
Oodgeroo Noonuccal ... Eva (as Kath Walker)
Bill Sandy Bill Sandy ... Skippy
Maureen Watson Maureen Watson ... Rene
Robert Ugle Robert Ugle ... Tim
Alan Dargin Alan Dargin ... Bruce


Story of an aboriginal family who tries to move out of the fringe into the main white community.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Outcasts in their own land [Australia DVD] See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The game show on the television is the Australian version of "The New Price is Right". See more »


Featured in The Fringe Dwellers: Meet the Cast and Crew (2004) See more »


Tell Me
Performed by Samurai Trash
Used by permission of Virgin Records Australia
See more »

User Reviews

Racism in a different culture
11 October 2007 | by ksandnessSee all my reviews

Accustomed to seeing portrayals of racism against African-Americans or Native Americans, I was intrigued to see some of the same phenomena in an Australian context.

The central character, Trilby Comeaway, part of extended family of Aborigines living in a shanty settlement outside a rural town, is one angry young lady. Her anger is directed not only at the local whites, who are abusively racist at worst and patronizing at best, but against her own family, many of whom seem to have internalized the stereotypes and are living in an irresponsible manner, even after being given a house in a public housing tract.

Looked at one way, the film could be seen as a condemnation of Aboriginal culture, but what it is actually portraying is the vacuum created when people lose or are deprived of their ancestral culture but are unable, for whatever reason, to participate fully in the dominant culture.

The members of the Comeaway family have some admirable qualities, such as their generosity to their extended family, one of the few Aboriginal cultural traits that they have retained. However, having internalized the stereotype of the irresponsible, child-like Aborigine, they have trouble functioning effectively in white society.

The story takes a different turn when a young man engaged in the Aboriginal land rights movement shows up and, among other things, becomes Trilby's lover.

Trilby is not always a likable person. She has a huge chip on her shoulder, and she does one thing that is quite shocking. However, the film seems to be saying that it's the "uppity" people in a minority group who will escape the trap of sinking into the stereotypes.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 7 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

October 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fringe Dwellers See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,940, 25 January 1987

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed