Martha's New Coat

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Actress Rachel Ward shows directorial sensitivity to her actors and a quietly effective feel for the small town milieu in this appealing rites of passage drama. An internalised 15-year-old 'goth' (Brown), dismayed by bullying at school and the fecklessness of her boozy divorced mother at home, takes off with her little sister (Carey) to find their estranged father in a mining town. 'How you gonna do anything, you silly bitch, if you don't fight,' shouts her Aboriginal assailant, a spur for the girl to take a more assertive stance. The script neatly balances themes of alienation and 'wiser but sadder' self-realisation, while the camerawork captures well the the wan reality of working class Australian townships.

By: WH

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