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Australia 1982
Directed by
Michael Caulfield
100 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Fighting Back

Lewis Fitz-Gerald plays John Embling, an idealistic young teacher who works with troubled children, and his relationship with one boy in particular. Given that it is largely an autobiographical account based on the real Embling's book, the film, which shifts the action from Melbourne's Western suburbs to Botany, an industrial area near Sydney Airport, at least in the hands of novice director Caulfield, who has since largely specialized in nature documentaries, soft-pedals its lost sheep story.

Tom (Paul Smith) is a very difficult child yet with little more than earnest, starry-eyed persistence Embling wins him and his battered and deserted mother, over. If this process of recovery seems far too easy, Embling's methods, which include taking the boy on an unaccompanied camping trip, would not be countenanced these days and there is, presumably unintentionally on Caulfield's part, a strong suggestion of a homosexual attraction in Embling's pastoral concern that undermines the film's obviously reassuring agenda.




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