Amy (review)

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Amy is eight years old, vivacious and creative… and apparently deaf and mute since she witnessed the horrible death of her beloved father, a rock musician, three years earlier. Her mother, Tanya, withdrew from the world in her own way, hiding out with her daughter on a remote Australian farm. But when child welfare agents come snooping around, wondering why Amy doesn’t go to school, Tanya flees with Amy to rundown Melbourne, where mother and daughter both begin to tentatively rejoin the world. Rachel Griffiths (My Best Friend’s Wedding) is extraordinary as a woman so focused on healing her daughter that she hasn’t yet dealt with her own grief — and when she is finally forced to confront her loss, the moment is stunning in its rawness. Ben Mendelsohn (who was one of the very few things worth seeing Vertical Limit for) is terrific as the bemused folk singer whose friendship with Amy — initiated when he realizes that she can hear him when he sings, and that she can reply in song — brings out the tender side of this cynical man. Young Alana De Roma is wonderfully knowing and heartfelt as Amy, believably tempering a child’s joy with the anguish she has endured. And director Nadia Tass, working from a sneakily magical script by David Parker, creates a moving and wise story that — like the recent Scottish film Orphans — recognizes that grief and recovery aren’t only sad and painful but can also be funny, perplexing, and downright fantastical.

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