Fran’s husband Ray (Danny Adcock) has returned unexpectedly from his job ‘up north’ and viciously beats and abuses her because he has heard she has been unfaithful. The next day Fran stays in bed feeling shattered and depressed and is comforted by her best friend and neighbour, Marge (Annie Byron).
Noni Hazlehurst brings emotional intensity to the title role (for which she won an AFI Award), and the contrast between this scene’s emotional turmoil and Fran’s earlier cheerfulness and life-affirming swagger gives a good sense of the performance’s range. Viewers have already heard Fran being called, in effect, a loose woman, but this scene shows a different side to her story – her husband is a vile brute who beats her.
Making the scene extra powerful is that we have already seen her sexually harassed by a stranger (clip one). Fran makes it clear here that this is not the first time Ray has beaten her. We now see there’s a pattern of physical abuse against her, both inside and outside of the home. It’s telling, though, that as soon as Ray walks out, Fran runs desperately – some might say pathetically – after him, demonstrating her emotional dependency and fear of being left alone. This emotional desperation is critical to the film: it proves to be Fran’s tragic flaw.