Ned Kendall (played by Ben Mendelsohn) is a country boy at heart, but he lives away from the family home and has done for a long time – to separate himself from his childhood and the harshness of his father, Bruce (by Bryan Brown). Bruce is now dying and on the request of his sister Sally (by Rachel Griffiths), Ned is back at the isolated property to visit him on his deathbed. Sally still lives at the homestead and she now cares for Bruce in these final, difficult days. Feeling unsure of the reception he’ll get, Ned brings his fiancé Toni (by Maeve Dermody) along for the visit too. As soon as he steps foot on home soil, Ned’s memories of his childhood flood back – particularly of his times with his twin sister Kate (by Sophie Lowe) and his brother Cliff (by Josh McFarlane). Their joys and adventures are still vivid in Ned’s mind … but then he starts to remember other, less palatable incidents that stir guilt deep inside him and uncover long buried realities about the family’s past.
This is a marvellous piece of cinema – the isolation of the homestead is reflected in the starkness of the production, but there is also a palpable beauty about the remote landscape. This balance is also seen in the portrayal of the family’s relationships – each one marked by misunderstanding and unspoken issues that erode the trust within a family. The drama does venture into controversial areas about family relationships that will not appeal to everyone – and may upset some, so you need to be aware of that. But the treasure is in all the cast – their performances are all truly wonderful, very strong with real raw emotion – a testament to the directorial debut of Rachel Ward. For his work, Andrew Commis won the 2010 Cinematographer of the Year and Golden Tripod awards from the Australian Cinematographers Society and Rachel Ward won Best Direction in a Feature Film from the Australian Directors Guild. Also, Rachel Griffiths won an Australian Film Industry (AFI) Award for the best supporting actress. I will say it again, it’s marvellous.
Made in 2009. Directed by Rachel Ward