Set in Sydney (Australia) during the turbulent years of the Great Depression, an orphaned boy becomes a pawn in a bitter family feud as two aunts – snooty Anglophile Vanessa (Wendy Hughes), and working-class Lila (Robyn Nevin) – battle for his custody.
The boy is called “PS” and he is seven-years-old.
Newly returned from a world tour, wealthy socialite Vanessa lavishes the boy with gifts, limousine rides, and affection but the dowdy Lila is determined to fight her sister’s custody claims in court. The case is complicated by the arrival of the boy’s long-absent father, Logan (John Hargreaves), an alcoholic who loves his son but is incapable of caring for him.
In adapting Sumner Locke Elliott’s novel for the screen, Carl Schultz has been careful to ensure that much of the action is seen from orphan Nicholas Gledhill’s perspective as his aunts struggle for custody.
Yet he also emphasises several adult themes, among them Australia’s relationship with the “mother country”, the impact of the Depression on all strata of society, and the role of women in a repressive patriarchy.
John Stoddart’s sets and John Seale’s photography give the film a nostalgic glow.