It takes less than 5 minutes into this film, Unfinished Sky, before we see this woman come staggering up the country road; dirty, covered in bruises and with cuts about her face, arms and legs. She does not speak English and is having wild hallucinations.
She finds herself at the remote farm property of John Woldring (William McInnes). He is a lonely, single farmer who has shut himself off from his community and has been happy to remain so since his wife died in a farm accident some years before. He is not looking after himself particularly well and does not communicate with others beyond mono-syllables.
John takes in the foreign woman where he bathes her, attends to her wounds, and allows her to rest. He discovers her name is Tahmeena, an illegal immigrant from Afghanistan. She has found her way to Australia to locate her daughter who she gave up to another family who immigrated earlier, ‘for a better life.’
The next hour of this film, John and Tahmeena slowly build a trust for each other. John discovers who is looking for Tahmeena, what has been done to her and hides her from those who wish her harm. Both people have experienced hurt and isolation and have to learn to be around another person they can relax and share with.
Tahmeena shares an uncanny likeness to John’s wife – the same body size, long dark hair – and despite experiencing some discomfort at discovering this, the story does not take this issue further.
Although it touches on some of the same themes as The Jammed, it is not as hopeless as that film was. While the ‘relationship building’ phase of the movie is believable – it does not feel rushed or forced – it struggles to maintain tension.
The last quarter of this film changes pace and is a little at odds with the preceding hour. It is the ‘action’ component and the inevitable conclusion to the story line. In truth, you probably cannot keep an illegal immigrant at home and have no one notice!
This film won the "other half" of the "Best" awards at last year's AFI Awards, winning Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay etc.
A 3 out of 5 film.