This is the second in a series of made-for-television films by the Australian Channel Nine network in collaboration with Film Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation. It follows the stages of a disintegrating marriage and does so with singular success.
Phil Harris (John Hargreaves) is a hard-drinking Aussie bloke who seems to have his hand constantly wrapped around a can of beer and his mind on motocross racing. His wife Jane (Veronica Lang) spends her life swallowing anti-depressant tablets to get her through the endless round of drudgery and neglect.
They have two children, Damien (Miles Buchanan) and Cathy (played admirably by future Hey Dad! star Simone Buchanan in her screen debut), who are the unwitting victims of the decline in caring between their parents.
Phil never listens to what Jane says, he has a mistress, Jeanette (Tina Bursill), and Jane never stops whining and longing for something better.
The crisis comes to a head after an accident involving their young daughter. Phil is out drinking with his mates and Jane is home alone when Cathy is badly cut by a knife and needs to go to the hospital. Fortunately, neighbour Mr Baxter (Ray Marshall) comes to the rescue. When Phil eventually returns home drunk, Jane accuses him of never being there when he is needed.
The next morning, when the children are off to school, Jane packs her bags and leaves their home. There is much confusion and anger when Phil comes home to find no wife tending the stove, and the children have to be reassured by him that their mother will soon be home.
The whole family – while it struggles on – begins to show the signs of the strain confined before perhaps only to the mother, and the problems faced by the family make enormously powerful drama.
The entire cast and crew went to Greystanes in the western suburbs of Sydney to film, almost entirely with a hand-held camera, in a house not long vacated by a real married couple who had just separated.
Sandra Lee Paterson