13 year-old New Zealander Janey harbours resentments against her mum, who is not only threatening to break up the household, but is also carrying on with the same footloose photographer who is the object of Janey's first crush.
Set in a sleepy coastal nook, this adaptation of New Zealander Kirsty Gunn's novel provides few dramatic surprises. But debutant Christine Jeffs delineates the tensions within a holidaying family with the same efficiency with which she establishes the fashions and mores of the early 1970s.
But the drama here derives from a family falling apart, as the father seeks solace in alcohol and the mother (an excellent Sarah Peirse) rekindles the passion of her youth through an affair with their photographer neighbour.
As in 'Heavenly Creatures', Sarah Peirse portrays the demonised mother with unassuming skill, succeeding in being both caring and callous in a disconcerting bath-time scene. Fulford-Wierzbicki also pouts to credible effect. But the eye-catchers are Aaron Murphy as her kid brother and John Toon's cinematography.
Despite the film's low-key approach, natural performances from the small cast pay off with an ending that packs a hard-hitting emotional punch.