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The Caterpillar Wish

Year: 2006
Director: Sandra Sciberras
Writer: Sandra Sciberras
Cast: Susie Porter, Robert Mammone, Wendy Hughes, Phillip Quast, Khan Chittenden, Nicholas Bell, Victoria Thaine
Emily (Thaine) has never known her father, and her mother Susan (Porter) keeps him locked away among the other secrets of her heart, including the parents who no longer talk to her.

Stephen (Mammone) is plagued with guilt over the murder/suicide of his wife and young daughter and one of the few friends the quiet and reserved Emily has apart from her boyfriend Joel. Stephen's sister Elizabeth (Hughes) is married to the adulterous town police sergeant Carl (Quast) whom Emily begins to suspect might be her real father.

It's a classic Shakespearean comedy of errors - without the comedy. Treated with serious beauty by writer/director Sciberras, it depicts an inquisitive girl who pries open the dark secrets of everyone around her in her quest to find out where she's come from, secrets few people want revealed.

It's not the first film to portray the tattered and fragile relationships in a small town, and it's not the best one either. Some in the audience will feel time start to drag and the film never really kicks into anything like high gear.

But the story opens with characters that are privy to a history we're yet to learn - you can see it under the surface of every pinched conversation and awkward silence, and that's where The Caterpillar Wish's strength lies. An accomplished cast of both veteran and little-known actors joins Porter, and they all command an impressive sense of their characters.

Together with lush and poetic cinematography of autumnal hues and slow focus pulls that have come straight from the eye of a natural visual artist, Sciberras is a director to watch.

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