Projections - Movie Reviews

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Kenneth Branaugh is the only big name actor in Philip Noyce's deeply felt personal look at a tragic piece of Australian history, Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Noyce returns to film the harrowing treatment of Aborigine children in his homeland where he made his debut wit the chilling Dead Calm.

The director of Patriot Games has less of a global concern here as he focuses cogently on what was done to children taken from their parents and put in state facilities for domestication in subservient positions.  Inexplicably, this went on for much of the 20th century until 1970.

Rabbit-Proof Fence takes its title from a 1500 mile divide in western Australia which went from north to south.  The barrier was erected because of the damage done by these fast animals to the country's heartland.

The script from Christine Olsen is based on a book by the daughter of the main character, Molly, who's now in her mid-80's.  In 1931, she escaped with her younger sister and cousin from the Native Settlement at Moore River.

This space, unsentimental tale has Molly as a young teen, strongly played by Everlyn Sampi who has never acted a lick before.  Also, Tianna Sansbury and Laura Monaghan are very good as young sister Daisy and cousin Gracie who work their way out of a compound in order to get beck to their mother and home in Jigalong.

The government has a tracker (David Gulpilil) after them.  And he begins to realize how dexterous Molly is for her age while reflecting on what it's like to be away from one's family for a long period of time.

Behind the vigorous search is Branaugh's A.O. Neville who wields his legal power over western Aborigines.  He is adamant about having them bred into European society.

One of the three girls will be nabbed, but one native servant (Deborah Mailman) and other friendly denizens figure into the action.  It quite convincingly reaches a high point with the chase finally involving the grandmother and mother of Holly and a relentless investigator.

At the moving, unsensational coda, Rabbit-Proof Fence renews our acquaintance with two aging women that have endured something that will always leave a dark spot on the land down under.

Rabbit-Proof Fence