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Australia 1987
Directed by
Gillian Armstrong
100 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

High Tide

Directed by a woman (Armstrong), produced by a woman (Sandra Levy), written by a woman (Laura Jones), and starring 3 women (Judy Davis, Claudia Karvan and Jan Adele), it is hardly a surprise that High Tide is predominantly about women. Colin Friels manages to put his head in for a while but having served his purpose melts away (originally his part had been written for a female as Davis's was male but this was changed in pre-production)

Davis plays Lilli, a freewheelin' back-up singer in an Elvis-themed covers band (helmed by Frankie J. Holden and with Monica Trapaga as a fellow-singer) on the coastal club circuit who accidentally stumbles across her long-abandoned daughter (a 15 year old Karvan) in the care of her mother-in-law (Beth Adele) in a caravan park in Eden on the south coast of NSW.

Debut screenwriter Laura Jones's script both captures the vernacular and delivers a low key but poignant story of emotional healing while Armstrong with Russell Boyd as cinematographer  lovingly portrays Antipodean coastal life with its caravan parks, milk bars and mundane vulgarity (in a small way it pre-echoes the 1994 Aussie classic Muriel's Wedding). In this respect it is an enjoyable time capsule from bygone days . In the lead the always-reliable Judy Davis is well-cast (she won the AFI best-actress award that year) whilst Claudia Karvan, her squeaky voice aside, is already a compelling screen presence and does a fine job opposite her as does Jan Adele as the blowsy grandma.

High Tide is a modestly-scaled film but given that that is its remit, a commendable one.

DVD Extras: None




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