Don’t Tell – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

May 14, 2017 by Roz Tarszisz
Read on for article

Paedophilia may not sound like the subject for a night out at the movies, but director Tori Garrett has created a compelling Australian tale of lost innocence.

It’s based on a true story and taken from Stephen Roche’s book about his experience as a solicitor when he represented a young woman sexually abused while boarding at a prestigious Anglican boarding school in Toowoomba in Queensland.

When housemaster Kevin Guy (Gyton Grantley) sets out to groom the vulnerable 11-year-old Lyndal (Kiera Freeman) it’s done slowly and carefully so by the time his goal is reached the child is enmeshed in the relationship and has been made “to feel special”.

It is a scenario that has become familiar, but no less horrific, brought into the light by our own Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Eleven years after Guy killed himself, Lyndal (Sara West) is a wreck, estranged from her farming parents Sue (Susie Porter) and the taciturn Tony (Martin Saks) and indulging in dangerous behaviours.  The Church and its legal team believe that the case against them ended with Guy’s suicide the day before his own trial.

What pushes Lyndal to seek legal help is her waking nightmares where she sees her abuser everywhere. She is so vulnerable and volatile that Steven Roche (Aden Young) is at first reluctant to take on her case. Barrister Bob Myers (Jack Thompson) is also afraid she will easily crack on the witness stand.

With a great cast of Australian actors, even in the smaller roles, such as Rachel Griffith as Lyndal’s psychiatrist and Robert Taylor as the headmaster.  Sara West is mesmerising in her pain and Kiara Freeman is convincing as the girl.

Like Spotlight , the film about serial paedophilia within Boston’s Catholic Church, it’s the cover-up that is the undoing of the institution.

When asked by barrister for the defence, Jean Dalton (Jacqueline McKenzie) why she didn’t tell anyone Lyndal explains that Guy told her she would get into trouble and that nobody would believe her anyway.

There is a sweetly understated scene where Lyndal and her father reconnect and as the drought and the film ends with rain, it’s a simple but powerful metaphor for Lyndal’s life.

This is a fine film, well told and acted.

4.5/5 108 mins   2017 Rated  M Released May 18

Starring Jack Thompson, Aden Young, Sara West, Rachel Griffiths

Directed by Tori Garrett

Screenplay by James Greville, Ursula Cleary, Anne Brooksbank

Based on the book Don’t Tell by Stephen Roche

 

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