6.8/10
217
5 user 6 critic

Lilian's Story (1996)

Not Rated | | Drama | 25 September 1998 (USA)
For forty years Lilian Singer has been locked up in a 'loony bin' by her father. Her release is eventually secured by her eccentric Aunt Kitty and her brother, John. Lilian starts to carve ... See full summary »

Director:

Jerzy Domaradzki

Writers:

Steve Wright (screenplay), Kate Grenville (novel)
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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ruth Cracknell Ruth Cracknell ... Lilian Singer
Barry Otto ... John Singer
Toni Collette ... Young Lilian Singer
John Flaus ... Frank
Jeff Truman ... Head Orderly
Lyle O'Hara Lyle O'Hara ... Esther
Kate Agnew Kate Agnew ... May
Fiona Press ... Ruby
Pat Hutchinson Pat Hutchinson ... Babs
Rachel Szalay Rachel Szalay ... Inmate One
Kris Bidenko Kris Bidenko ... Inmate Two
Janet Foye ... Inmate Three
Deborah Foster Deborah Foster ... Inmate Four
Iris Shand Iris Shand ... Aunt Kitty
Michael Greir Michael Greir ... Driver of Kitty's Cab
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Storyline

For forty years Lilian Singer has been locked up in a 'loony bin' by her father. Her release is eventually secured by her eccentric Aunt Kitty and her brother, John. Lilian starts to carve out a place for herself. As she explores Sydney and the people who live and work around her she sees others looking for love. Lilian shows us it is never too late to change your life and that even unusual choices can bring contentment. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Everything matters

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 September 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Historia Liliany See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,220, 28 March 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,220, 28 March 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Movieco Australia See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ruth Cracknell, a Shakespearean actress and life long fan of William Shakespeare's knew the Shakespearean monologues she recited off by heart before the film was green lit. See more »

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User Reviews

 
The triumph of human endeavour over adversity
18 May 2001 | by FilmtributeSee all my reviews

This is a fictional account of the life of a famous Sydney street character, Bea Miles, in the middle of the last century who recited Shakespeare for the edification of passers by. This film may have disappointed those who enjoyed Kate Grenville's novel and feel the casting inappropriate, and for that reason I have reservations about watching The Beach or Captain Corelli's Mandolin where the main lead seems so unlikely. However, a film can still be enjoyed and have value for being an interpretation of an original idea, especially when such fine actors are involved.

Ruth Cracknell is outstanding as the older Lilian and the rest of the cast is superb, with Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding) increasing her dramatic range. Lilian's mother is perfectly portrayed by Anne Louise Lambert (Picnic at Hanging Rock) as a subdued beauty, reduced to timing ferries, with all the spirit of a bird of paradise crushed out of her by a monstrous husband. The mother is, unsurprisingly, unable to help her daughter, and offers the grossly inadequate reply of `its simple really, there are changes' in response to her daughter's concern about entering womanhood. Lilian and her brother are eventually deserted by their mother who entrusts their well being and sanity to the tender hands of the brute of a father.

Barry Otto (Strictly Ballroom) portrays an educated father and husband of the cruelest kind who seems hell bent on repressing all spirit in those around him, offering the encouraging words to his daughter of `you're unstable Lilian' in response to her dreams of going to university and becoming a doctor or scientist. With this kind of care children either learn to respond in kind, or destroy themselves, perpetuating the misery for every one who comes into contact with them.

Inevitably some unfavourable comparisons have been made with Shine as Lilian's Story was developed at the same time, however it tackles the difficult issues of physical and mental abuse from the feminine perspective and has important messages to impart. This film is certainly more harrowing than the 1970 English classic ‘Spring and Port Wine' which also deals with a domineering father and husband.

The story is told in flashbacks after Lilian is released from a mental institution after 40 years of incarceration by her father for being too wild. The power of human endeavour in overcoming adversity is demonstrated as Lilian finds a new life entertaining and helping people on the streets of Sydney, through the love for `her William'.

The strengths of this film lie in its talented cast, its refreshing Australianism and decidedly un-Hollywood influenced approach. There are good characterisations and some nice symbolic touches such as the fridge weeping onto the kitchen floor as Lilian recalls her mother and the cruelty of her father.

VHS copies can be obtained from ScreenSound Australia as I found difficulty in tracking this film down in the UK although it was distributed by Video Networks UK.


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