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Festivale online magazine
A Reel Life film section
Radiance movie review


Three sisters gather for the funeral of their mother. She was a woman who enjoyed men, and we assume they are the daughters of different men.

Radiance is not about the mother, or the funeral, but rather about the three women and their relationships with one another.

The eldest is a tall, slender, polished opera star. The second daughter is a square-shouldered, solid nurse who cared for their mother through precocious senility. The youngest is a fullsome energetic girl, scantily-clad, bewigged, and newly pregnant.

Of the three, she is the only one who escaped being stolen away to a Catholic school.

Movie Poster, Radiance, Festivale online magazine film review; radiance.jpg - 23787 Bytes
Movie Poster, Radiance

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The forced separation is the only part of this film that is not universal. While the white establishment may have been responsible for their removal, the blame and betrayal still flow towards their mother.

Why didn't she hide them? Why didn't she visit them? Why didn't she steal them back?

Despite thinking that we put away childish things, most of us live partly in our childhood, harbouring victories and injuries, unable or unwilling to be adults and move on. We meet the sisters in that place in space and time where they must accept the facts of their childhood, and their childhood relationships, resolve themselves with the past, and begin again as adults.

Radiance has a small cast few locations, and just about no effects. The isolation of the setting, the sparcely-built Queensland coastal sugar country, forces the audience to concentrate on the characters and their experiences. It relies on the script, the acting, and the direction to communicate with the audience. It does not scream issues at us, it does not reek with outrage (gender-based or racial) -- it simply tells the story of differences, and family secrets, and the way that the past, unresolved, harms the present.

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Title: Radiance (1998)

The Players: Rachel Maza, Deborah Mailman, Trisha Morton-Thomas
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Festivale Online Magazine
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed:3-Nov-1998 : Last updated: 13-Nov-1998: Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last compiled: 3-Jul-2014

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