The first feature (1988) of the quirky, original, and subversive Australian writer-director Ann Turner, whose Dallas Doll was one of the best and weirdest independent efforts of its year. Celia isn’t quite as good, but it tells a fascinating and disquieting story, set in 1957 Melbourne, about the effects of anticommunism and a rabbit plague on the nine-year-old girl of the title. Her grandmother, who dies just before the film begins, had been a member of the Australian Communist Party, as are the parents of the children who live next door, with whom Celia forms a blood pact. Her father and uncle’s intolerance of communists is elaborately cross-referenced with local fears about proliferating rabbits, which have dire consequences for Celia when she acquires a pet bunny; her forms of rebellion escalate to voodoo rites and ultimately murder. The storytelling isn’t as streamlined as one might wish, but the performance of Rebecca Smart as Celia and Turner’s passionate viewpoint make this both arresting and distinctive. With Nicholas Eadie, Maryanne Fahey, Victoria Longley, and William Zappa. (JR)

This entry was posted in Featured Texts. Bookmark the permalink.