Feature debut from director Cate Shortland concerns the sexual maturing of a young girl who in escaping a perceived unforgivable transgression finds herself in a remote resort town on a downward spiral. Serves as a remarkable calling card for Abbie Cornish who is spellbinding throughout and for Sam Worthington who of course went on to far grander enterprises. Also of note is the turn by Lynette Curran.
This touches the heart without sinking to sentiment, perfectly capturing that moment when the shining solipsism of youth comes apart. A young girl negotiating the irrational connections between sex and love, within herself, between her and others less innocent, and showing that innocence lives in the heart, not the hymen. Also, literally a touching film, so many hands, so many surfaces, such detail, such tactility.
Clearly aspiring to be a psychological drama, this film doesn't offer any real substance. The acting is ok, but the characters lack depth and development. A lot of their actions felt painfully illogical, unmotivated and repetitive, which kills both the drive of the narrative and the viewer sympathy. Overall, the film feels shallow and unconvincing. The subject matter offers potential, which stays largely unexplored.
A sensitive low-key film. Shortland creates plenty of space and wisely lets the camera linger on Cornish to allow her sexuality/innocence to emerge in a very natural way. She just avoids the trap of melodrama/gratuitousness. Instead, we get caught up in our desire to protect her, our identification with her (and others') adolescent confusion, and the poignancy of leaving childhood behind too soon.
Cate Shortland is an extraordinary talent, judging from this sensitive, thoughtful film. It deals beautifully with that knife edge where we spill from child to adult and try to work out who we are while our hormones are going wild. Lovely performances, beautifully paced, and really rich with humanity.