8:05 PM, 14th March, 2000
Soft Fruit is the first feature film from Christina Andreef, an acclaimed short-film maker and former assistant to Jane Campion. Common themes among recent Australian films have been dysfunctional family relationships and mortality. Soft Fruit is an emotionally draining drama that combines both these elements in a story that is honest, warm, compassionate, unexpectedly funny and upbeat, yet somehow endearing.
Jeanie Drynan (Muriel's Wedding) is Patsy, a Port Kembla mother whose four children have drifted away and whose crusty Eastern European husband (Linal Haft) spends his day shooting magpies out of the backyard. But when ill health seems to be bringing her life to a close, her kids return from their various messy lives in order to nurse her through the remaining weeks.
Divorcee Nadia (Sacha Horler) returns home from Sydney; bossy Josie (Genevieve Lemon) flies home from America; Vera is a nurse in the local hospital; and Bo is briefly paroled from prison on compassionate grounds. All have the best intentions in smothering mum with attention in her last days. Patsy is not about to fill the role of dying martyr, she wants to experience everything she missed out on in life, dammit, and neither impending death nor fawning family is about to stop her.
It is a trying time for all, as old rivalries, tensions, and frustrations resurface. Andreef explores emotionally- laden terrain with sensitivity and understanding and presents us with flawed but readily identifiable characters. Soft Fruit explores family dynamics with an insight rare in Australian film.