“You’re nearly fifty, you know – you’ve got to do something with your life!”
When his mother dies, a 49-year-old bachelor (Norman Kaye) begins dating a pretty, inexperienced young woman (Wendy Hughes) with overly controlling parents. Though Kaye and Hughes get along famously, Hughes’ sexual repression eventually puts a kink in their relationship.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Sexual Repression
Australian director Paul Cox became known to U.S. audiences with the release of this amiable, sensitive romance about two awkward souls falling in love. Kaye and Hughes — fixtures of Australian cinema — are both impeccable in the lead roles; gorgeous Hughes somehow manages to instantly convince us that her “mousy” character is repressed and awkward, while balding Kaye radiates a unique kind of confidence and likable quirkiness (his grin says so much!). The screenplay is gently paced, never in a hurry, instead showing us the natural unfolding of this new couple’s love and respect for one another. They go out to eat and drink; listen to records; take leisurely strolls and kiss; have dinner with Kaye’s controlling sister (Julia Blake) and her husband (Jonathan Hardy); and join a local theater production of Strindberg’s The Father, run by a hilariously overwrought martinet (Jon Finlayson). Lurking in the background is Kaye’s desire to begin a sexual relationship with Hughes, and Hughes’ fear of this inevitable progression. While one wishes at times for a bit more explanation of certain character traits — Kaye’s struggle with kleptomania comes out of nowhere, for instance — it’s difficult to quibble with the overall sincerity of this sweet Australian flick.
Favorite (reaction to a) line: “A Swedish pastor.” (!!)
Note: Cox’s other Peary-listed film is Man of Flowers (1983), also starring Kaye.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Norman Kaye as Peter
- Wendy Hughes as Patricia
- Jon Finlayson as George
- Jonathan Hardy as Bruce
- A sensitively filmed tale of emergent romance
Yes, for the stellar lead performances, and as a fine, refreshingly unassuming romance. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book. Winner of the Australian Academy Award for Best Picture.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)