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MY MOTHER FRANK

Australia, 2000 (MIFF 2000, Australian Showcase)

Director: Mark Lamprell

Frances Regina Aileen Nano Kennedy or, more simply, Frank, is a cantankerous, eccentric and sharp-tongued widow in her 50s. A rebellious Catholic, Frank keeps a watchful eye on her 18-year-old son David (Matthew Newton, Looking for Alibrandi). To Frank, this is just being a concerned parent, to David she is an interference who burdens him with wake-up calls in the midst of lusty dreams and drops him off with a cut lunch at college. When David persuades his mother to occupy her time more productively—taking up an adult education course—his plan backfires in a comic catastrophe when Frank winds up studying at the same institution.

Screenwriter and documentary filmmaker Mark Lamprell has drawn together a fine Australian cast and a script imbued with gentle humour for his feature debut. Sam Neill plays against type as a stuffy, batty academic. Professor Mortlock, showing previously underutilised ability for comedy. Sinead Cusack (Stealing Beauty) is outstanding as the strong-willed Frank; with exceptional support from Sacha Horler (Praise, Soft Fruit) and Rose Byrne (Two Hands) as the object of David's desire.

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