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Australia 1990
Directed by
Jerzy Domaradzki
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Struck By Lightning

Struck By Lightning is very much in the feel-good tradition of film-making but what is remarkable about it is that at least half the cast are people with Down's Syndrome or other genetically-inherited disorders.

The film starts unpromisingly with a rather hyperbolically staged scene involving P.E. teacher Pat Cannizzaro (Brian Vreinds) trashing a school tuck shop because of the rubbish it sells, an act which earns him dismissal and leads him to a job in a sheltered workshop run by Ollie (Garry McDonald), at which point the real subject matter of the film, which is essentially issues of caring for mentally handicapped people, kicks in.

Presumably writer and co-producer Trevor Farrant has first hand experience of his subject, for the film has a strong sense of credibility and commitment, the purely comedic aspects notwithstanding. The strength of Farrant's script, sympathetically realized by Domaradzki, is that he does not stray into the sentimental or didactic and invests his messages with down-to-earth good humour.

Whilst the other main character Jill (Catherine McClements ) is rather conventionally drawn and somewhat weakly integrated into the story, Garry McDonald gives a winning performance as the abrasive but caring director and Brian Vreinds, who has largely confined his subsequent career to television, and who spends virtually the entire film grinning from ear to ear, injects it with a focalizing energy that holds the episodic narrative together.




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