Friday, April 9, 2021

#2,550. Careful, He Might Hear You (1983) - Spotlight on Australia


Mark Hartley’s 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood turned me on to a number of great Aussie exploitation (known as “ozploitation”) films, but over the years I’ve also discovered a handful of excellent period dramas that were produced "Down Under", including My Brilliant Career, The Getting of Wisdom, and Newsfront, just to name a few.

Now I can add director Carl Schultz’s exquisite 1983 movie Careful, He Might Hear You to that already impressive list.

Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Sumner Locke Elliott, Careful, He Might Hear You takes us back to the Great Depression. Two sisters: working-class Lila (Robyn Nevin) and socialite Vanessa (Wendy Hughes), are locked in a custody battle, each vying for the right to raise their young Nephew PS (Nicholas Gledhill). Lila and her husband George (Peter Whitford) have been PS’s legal guardians since he was an infant, while Vanessa, who only recently returned from England, was named co-guardian by their late sister, PS’s mother.

Believing it’s in the child’s best interest, Vanessa wants to bring PS to England with her, giving him a life of luxury and privilege, while Lila fights tooth and nail to ensure the boy remains with her in Sydney.

Both Hughes and Nevin are pitch-perfect as the feuding siblings, each with their own ideas regarding their nephew’s upbringing, and John Hargreaves (Long Weekend, Don’s Party) is superb in a brief appearance as Logan, PS’s absent father (the scene where Logan offers his son some practical advice is arguably the movie’s most poignant).

The performances, coupled with John Seale’s gorgeous cinematography (PS’s first glimpse of Vanessa is shot in such a way that she appears almost dreamlike), do their part to ensure this Australian melodrama is engaging from start to finish.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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