Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

My Life Without Steve (1986)

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clip A safe central spot education content clip 3

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Alone in her flat at night, overlooking the harbour, Liz reads Marge Piercy, talks about her psychiatrist, and laments the loss by theft of Steve’s poems. Evoking the mind-states depicted in the film Gaslight, she ponders the vagaries of her own emotional state.

Curator’s notes

This is a sequence from early in the film – and one of the very few times we see Liz in person. It includes a shot from the window of Liz’s flat, in this instance at night, of Blackwattle Bay. This inner-west section of Sydney Harbour, where life is always seen continuing on as normal, despite Liz’s despair, features strongly throughout the film. Over the extended take, Liz quotes from Braided Lives by feminist writer Marge Piercy, about the ‘central safe spot’ experienced when one is loved. Piercy, like Leahy, had a complex discordant relationship with her mother. Later in the film, Leahy’s relationship with her mother is dredged via readings from a series of letters between Liz and her mother (based on actual letters). The readings unearth Liz’s fury and resentment. This section of the narration is rather more poetic, with Piercy’s words skilfully interwoven into Liz’s own words and a lament for the loss of Steve’s poems. The sequence culminates in a quote from a poem written by Leahy herself as an adolescent.

The clip ends with Liz musing on the narrative of Gaslight, directed in 1944 by the feminist favourite, George Cukor, and starring Ingrid Bergman. Gaslight remains today a fascinating portrayal of emotional manipulation within a heterosexual relationship.

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All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

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  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
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