A subtly affecting rites-of-passage drama, set in Melbourne in 1957 and charting one summer in the life of nine-year-old Celia (a wonderful performance from Rebecca Smart). Thematic and structural faults expose writer/director Turner's inexperience in her debut: episodes are awkwardly linked, steam runs short towards the end, tenuous links are drawn between political paranoia and legislative attempts to curb an explosion in the rabbit population. But the film beautifully explores the fear which so often informs childhood perception, and focuses on accompanying defensive rituals; superstition (parental discipline is avenged with voodoo) and gang rivalry. The arid Australian landscape is at once banal and mysterious; the hideous creatures stalking Celia's favourite fiction are as real to her as the taunts of an obnoxious cousin. Her imagination is misunderstood by her father, but Celia finds - to his dismay - that the new Communist neighbours encourage flights of fancy and her questioning mind. The central characterisation is the film's strength, striking just the right balance between apprehension and wonder.
Cast and crew
Rebecca Smart Nicholas Eadie Mary-Anne Fahey Margaret Ricketts Victoria Longley Alexander Hutchinson Adrian Mitchell Callie Gray Martin Sharman