A potentially conventional family--mum and dad, aware of fading love; big sister in the throes of moody adolescence trying to balance dreams and reality; little brother still enclosed in the wonders of childhood's imagination--spend the lazy, hazy days of summer at their seashore beach house. It's the early '70s, and society's values are shifting, providing very loose ground beneath a family whose own structure is also undergoing change. Nothing beyond the moment has permanence--it can be swept away as swiftly and inevitably as the tide washes away a child's sand castle or rain wipe away the dirt from muddy feet.
Trusting in the power of her excellent cast, Jeffs knows when to linger and when to move on, making clever use of shifts in speed and sound that in clunkier hands would too obviously reveal the heritage of a filmmaker with skills honed in commercials. There is nothing of the hard (or for that matter the soft) sell in her work here. It is remarkably pure, never pushing for too much or falsely teasing with too little.
Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki runs licks around most young teen actresses as she reveals the appealing charm and irritating self-absorption of Janey, who faces the heartrending pangs of breaking away from being anybody's little girl. As her essentially good-natured parents, Kate and Ed, who have never emotionally accepted the responsibility of this life choice and are chaffing against the closing in of middle age, Sarah Peirse and Alistair Browning well up with feeling and frustration but never emote in false histrionics. Marton Csokas slides convincingly through the careless detachment of Cady, the slightly-past-his-sell-by-date beach bum photographer who literally sails into the family's world to become the catalyst for disaster. Aaron Murphy as Jim, the little red-headed brother, his skin exposed stark white beneath the summer sunshine, personifies all the natural spunk that lights up the fragile fleeting moments that make life seem eternal to the young. Starring Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, Sarah Peirse, Marton Csokas, Alistair Browning and Aaron Murphy. Directed and written by Christine Jeffs. Produced by Philippa Campbell. An IDP release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 92 min.