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The Year My Voice Broke (1987)


Danny (Noah Taylor) is a gawky 15-year-old, in love with his best friend, the beautiful and free-spirited Freya (Loene Carmen). They’re misfits in a country town in NSW in 1962. When Freya falls for Trevor (Ben Mendelsohn), football star and apprentice delinquent, Danny’s sexual longing turns to jealous confusion. As he tries to win her back, Danny uncovers a dark secret in the town’s past.

Curator’s notes

Beneath its quirky story of coming of age in rural Australia, The Year My Voice Broke is a savage portrait of a small town hypocrisy and sexual repression. The beauty of the hills around the town, where Freya and Danny have played together since childhood, is a kind of paradise, in marked contrast to the unhappy living rooms below, where adult problems play out in secret shame. Writer-director John Duigan continually emphasises high and low angles of view and constructs a sense of paradise lost, with a strongly emotional core. The film is an unusual mix – both romantic pastorale, a nostalgic memoir of growing up in the countryside, and a shocking denunciation of its values. The latter was not especially new, but the film’s delicate balance of dark and light tone, especially its use of laconic humour (the mid-year dance, and Trevor’s constant car thefts) made the film very popular with audiences. Geoff Burton’s cinematography is of immense value in establishing a strong sense of place. The film was followed three years later by a sequel, Flirting, in which Danny, played again by Noah Taylor, goes to boarding school.