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In the outback opal mining township of Coober Peedy, the Williamson family reluctantly share their modest cottage with Pobby and Dingan, the two imaginary best friends of their 9 year old daughter Kellyanne (Sapphire Boyce). Neither her older brother Ashmol (Christian Byers), their mother Annie (Jacqueline McKenzie) and least of all her dad Rex (Vince Colosimo) have much patience for Kellyanne or her invisible friends, but Rex takes them to the mine one day for an 'outing' to humour his daughter. When he returns that night, having forgotten them, Kellyanne is distraught and persuades Rex to search for them, which is mistaken by their neighbour for 'ratting' an adjacent claim and lands Rex in court, not to mention the degrading fury of the entire community. Ill with worry, Kellyanne once more persuades her brother to go on a desperate search for Pobby and Dingan in the collapsed mine, which turns up unexpected results all round.

Review by Louise Keller:
A touching story about dreams - both imaginary and real, Opal Dream explores the multi-faceted nature of something precious. Peter Cattaneo directs this cinematic tale whose remote Coober Pedy setting is worlds away from Sheffield in his earlier award-winning film, The Full Monty. The heart of Australia's desert has been captured many times on film, but the chalky, arid landscape takes us into a world that feels fresh. In fact everything about this film is fresh as it takes us from whimsical to profound.

Not since Donnie Darko have imaginary friends been seemed so real. As the descriptions of Pobby with the wooden leg and Dingan whose opal glistens from her belly button become more real, so too does our understanding of their importance. The weight of the film lies in the hands of ten year old Christian Byers, through whose eyes the story is told. His matter-of-fact delivery, especially in the scenes with his onscreen sister Sapphire Boyce, rings true, his performance filled with subtlety and sensitivity. We understand the close bond with his sibling and when he descends into the mine shaft in the dead of night on an impossible task, we are right there with him. Boyce is remarkable also, if a little practised at times. Vince Colosimo and Jacqueline McKenzie offer solid support in roles that might have been better developed.

The images are incongruous as we meet a pretty little girl with blonde hair chatting happily with her imaginary friends over a plastic toy tea set. Not far away, her father is covered with dust, as he drills underground in search of opals. Her older brother snowboards on a chalky mound by the mine shaft, while her mother serves customers at the local store. The juxtaposition leaves haunting images. The solitary emptiness of the space goes beyond the vast setting. There is a genuine loneliness in all the characters. Based on Pobby and Dingan, a novella by Ben Rice, who co-wrote the screenplay with Cattaneo, there are a few flaws in the storyline, but the film's warm and affirmative themes and performances are rock solid.

There is a special feature on the DVD with behind the scenes footage.

Published March 15, 2007

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(Aust, 2005)

CAST: Vince Colosimo, Jacqueline McKenzie, Christian Byers, Sapphire Boyce, Peter Callan, Robert Menzies, Adam Morgan, Rusty Potter, Denise Roberts

PRODUCER: Lizie Gower, Emile Sherman

DIRECTOR: Peter Cattaneo

SCRIPT: Peter Cattaneo, Phil Trail (novella by Ben Rice)


EDITOR: Jim Clark

MUSIC: Christian Henson, Dario Marianelli

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Elizabeth Mary Moore

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tas: Sept 7; Vic: Sept 14; QLD, Sept 21; NSW, WA & SA: Sept 28, 2006


SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes featurette


DVD RELEASE: March 14, 2007

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