MOMMIES DEAREST

Carl Schultz’s Careful, He Might Hear You is like an Australian Masterpiece Theatre version of Mommies Dearest—sedate, classy, earnest as all get-out in its attempt to understand how custody battles waged over children have unwitting consequences. The story is about two sisters—Wendy Hughes as an uptight, “virgin queen” Diane Baker look-alike and Robyn Nevin a Pricilla Pointer type—playing tug of war over who’ll be the guardian of their deceased sister’s six year old boy. There are some sexual undertones during thunderstorms suggesting sexual initiation of the boy by Miss Uptight, and though the scenes aren’t fully clear (this is, after all, an early 80s Aussie movie) they can’t be lightly dismissed. The ending is likewise inconclusive—the boy may indeed become just like his wandering, never-there father, which is to say that like daddy he has found the machinations of women more than he can really take. There are some heart-tugging moments, like the boy’s reunion with his father, and overall there’s an uncommon grace and meticulousness to all of it, though I did mumble an obscenity when the father didn’t have the decency to shave his 5 o’clock shadow. The performances are almost pictorial and no one deserves a frame (a halo?) around him more than Nicholas Gledhill as the boy. He’s damn near alarming in manner—chillingly immaculate, what a little Mel Gibson might be like as an actor. Ray Cook’s score works you up every which way.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 1997 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.