Danny has been sent to boarding school, in this sequel to The Year My Voice Broke. Against a backdrop of bullying and sadistic teachers Danny strikes up an affair with an African girl.
"I remember the smells the most,: stale lockers with fruitcakes running into the wood; crusty shoe polish; Quink ink for fountain pens ; disinfectant on the floor; fresh chalk; mouldy oranges ; and, on a rainy day, the deep, rank, wild smell of discarded football boots." With this evocative olfactory enticement, writer/director John Duigan opens the second part of the trilogy which began with his 1987 rites-of-passage tale, The Year My Voice Broke, here drawing us back into the world of hapless teen Danny Embling (Taylor).
It is now 1965, and Danny is happily ensconced in a remote Australian boys' boarding school. Here, rendered the outsider amongst his more boisterous contemporaries, Danny spends his days gazing wistfully across the lake to the neighbouring ladies' college until he discovers a kindred spirit in the shape of the beautiful Thandiwe (a promising debut for Newton), and life suddenly takes on a decidedly more rosy hue.
While his beautifully observed characters (Nicole Kidman does her bit as Head Girl) and situations are immediately recognisable, Duigan never once resorts to simple stereotype. The exquisite pleasure of first love is portrayed without so much as a hint of romantic mush, while Danny's groping journey toward a meaning in life will have even the most hardened old cynics waxing nostalgic over their own adolescent years.
An absolute gem, and a treat not to be missed.