A young Australian boy is the victim of his manipulative aunt, until he asserts himself for the first time. [ Careful, He Might Hear You credits: Dir: Carl Schultz/ Wendy Hughes, Robyn Nevin, Nicholas Gledhill/ 113 min/ Drama/ Australia/ Individualism]
“Careful, He Might Hear You is a clear winner, with beautiful and clever cinematography, haunting music, and a very moving story.”
There’s a lot going on in Careful, He Might Hear You, but the theme that will be of interest to readers of this guide is the birth of self-identity and personal independence in a young child. The story is also illustrative of the self-destructive effect, on a personal level, of authoritarian behavior.
It centers on events in the life of a small boy, nicknamed “P.S.” by his now dead mother, the initials standing for, in her words, “a postscript to my ridiculous life.” Following his mother’s death, joint custody of the now orphaned P.S. is given to his two aunts.
At first, he lives happily, if modestly, with one of the aunts. Then the other, more manipulative, aunt arrives and begins gradually taking over his life. As it turns out, she’s not only authoritarian but also sexually abusive. Nonetheless, because she’s rich and powerful, she may be able to get full custody. Enter P.S.’s last hope—his heretofore absent father, a gold miner and drifter. He detects that P.S. is unhappy, and inspires the child to defy his domineering aunt. After that, it’s open rebellion.
Up to this point, P.S. has been nothing more than a helpless and immature extension of the adults who fought over him. But now, having discovered that he can affect his own world, he gains a degree of psychological independence and thereby the strength to assert his own self-interest.
In artistic respects Careful, He Might Hear You is a clear winner, with beautiful and clever cinematography, haunting music, and a very moving story. Several scenes are shot from a child’s perspective, as befits the subject. Although Wendy Hughes is given top billing, it’s Nicholas Gledhill, one of the most subtle child actors ever, who steals the show in his role as P.S.
Note: there is a brief scene of sexual abuse, so this is not an appropriate film for small children.
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