Errol Wallace (Hopkins) is all that one could ask of a time-and-motion expert. But when he moves from recommending redundancies at a Melbourne car factory to figuring out the financial problems of Ball's Moccasin Factory - a small family affair in the backwater suburb of Spotswood - he slowly realises that he lacks one essential virtue: the warming, common touch of humanity. Joffe's gentle comedy-drama, set in the mid-'60s, is as old-fashioned as the Ealing-esque community that is its main setting; a faintly hackneyed romantic subplot and the quietly sentimental tone of moral uplift only underline the film's overall caution. That said, it is genuinely funny, thanks to deft characterisations, a wry eye for the absurdities of working life, and a nice line in throwaway visual gags and verbal non-sequiturs. Hopkins' taciturn performance, meanwhile, injects a welcome, credible note of pain into the light-hearted proceedings. Small, slight, but surprisingly affecting.
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