“Were you listening, P.S.?”
A 7-year-old orphan named P.S. (Nicholas Gledhill) who has lived with his poor but kind aunt (Robyn Nevins) and uncle (Peter Whitford) for years is forced to go spend time with his wealthy, emotionally reserved Aunt Vanessa (Wendy Hughes) when his absentee father (John Hargreaves) decides this may be best for him — but P.S. misses his old life, and struggles to make his wishes known to the adults around him.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Australian Films
- Class Relations
- Raising Kids
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “sleeper from Australia” — which “seems to have profoundly affected everyone who has seen it” — “effectively conveys the trauma suffered by a child who is shuttled back and forth between two homes, without having any say in what is best for him… Everything he is told is biased; nothing he does is correct in either household… [and] he is told by each aunt to keep secrets from the other”, leading to him being “confused, scared, and miserable.” Peary points out that the “tragedy is that everyone acts at their worst”, with “even the sweet little boy resort[ing] to cruel manipulation of the adults by the film’s end” (one doesn’t blame him in the slightest). Peary argues that this “important subject matter has, surprisingly, never been handled well until this film” (really?), and that the picture features “excellent acting — young Gledhill will capture your heart — and solid direction by Carl Schultz.” I’m in agreement with Peary’s review, and was pleasantly surprised to revisit this evocatively filmed historical drama, filled with unusual characterizations — “Hughes’s character is… well-meaning in regard to her nephew, but is incapable of expressing love or warmth” — and deep empathy for a child’s perspective on life. One could easily imagine Joan Crawford in Hughes’s role, and other elements of the film — including its rather melodramatic final half-hour — hearken back to the golden age of classic cinema as well.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Nicholas Gledhill as P.S.
- Wendy Hughes as Aunt Vanessa
- Robyn Nevins as Aunt Lila
- Beautiful cinematography and production design
- Fine direction
Yes, as a unique and satisfying film.