Watching the wary children in Daniel Joseph Borgman’s film as they size each other up, longing for alliance and dreading treachery, you might forget you are watching fiction. Eleven-year-old Adrian (Demos Murphy) has been landed on his grandmother (Catherine Wilkin), who already has her hands full with his manic-depressive uncle (Matthew Sutherland). A cipher of down-home puritanical severity, she offers only perfunctory care to the ‘hyper-sensitive’ child. A watchful teacher proves to be a passing thing. As this sketchy adult world revolves on its own inscrutable axis, Adrian struggles to find his way in the world of children.
His friendship with another boy comes and goes as the other kid falls in and out with a marauding pack of older boys. Preoccupied with a long-running news story about the abduction of three young siblings, he becomes convinced – from signals we can read the same way – that these are the same three kids who have just moved into a run-down house nearby. A tenuous friendship with the wary older girl (Angelina Cottrell) holds the promise of companionship.