The story is uplifting in spite of tragedy of truly Shakespearean proportions. One of the most inspiring things is that Raimond not only survived but grew up to be as he is - the story is about the unbreakable bond between Father and Son, I was often in tears. Romulus was a "Very Good Man" (almost a Saint). We also get a keen understanding of the love of man for his fellow man, from the relationship between Hora and Romulus and especially between Romulus and Mitru.
The time and place is evoked beautifully as well as the colossal struggle that postwar migrants went through in Australia. Most readers will either not know or not remember that these were hard times indeed, in 1961 the Federal Government instituted a credit squeeze which almost destroyed the Australian Economy. The country people suffered much, as did the city people also.
The actors are brilliant - Eric Bana, Marton Csokas, Franka Potenta (you can't take your eyes off her whenever she is on screen - the woman is startlingly beautiful) and Russell Dykstra - all are perfect for the roles. The standout performance however is from the new child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee - he is a discovery on the order of another Haley Joel Osment, Keisha Castle-Hughes or Christian Bale. The boy is in almost every scene and he carries the production almost entirely on his little shoulders.
After the film, I recommend the book - it is beautifully written and easy to read and will explain what happened to all the characters as well as a lot of the subtext (the film coves a period of about four years in Raimond's life - from age 9 to about 13). The final point is that you have to pay attention to the film carefully - subtlety is the word here and dialogue is spare - you really need to look at the people to understand what is going on.