My rating: ****
This is a remarkable but extremely bleak film, which stays with you for days after viewing. It is based on the Australian philosopher Raimond Gaita’s memoir about his migrant parents and takes place when he is around ten years old and is told from his point of view. It is a tragic tale of maladjustment to class position, of the difficulties of migration and of grinding poverty. His feckless mother has affairs and eventually runs off with another man. She resents her class position and wants to live an unattainable high life. Instead she is trapped by marriage, children, poverty and by a country which she hates. Her affairs and her disinterest in her new baby drives her new de facto to suicide, she then kills herself which in turn drives her husband over the brink leading to his being interned temporarily in a lunatic asylum.
The poverty, misery, violence and unrelenting hard work endured by these people in 1960s Australia is shown in all its period squalor on screen. Kodi Smit-McPhee who plays Rai puts in a wonderfully convincing and nuanced performance and Franka Potenta as the mother and Eric Bana and Marton Csokas are equally convincing.
The film ends on a note of hope but it is a long hard road to find even a glimmer on the horizon.