With recent hits like Little Fish and Candy Aussie flicks are on a bit of a roll. That list should now include Sandra Sciberras’s The Caterpillar Wish. Set in a small coastal town, Caterpillar is like ABC TV’s SeaChange with attitude.
Too afraid to confront a painful past, single mum Susan brings up her 17-year-old daughter Emily in a conservative small town. Their relationship is more as close friends than mother-daughter.
Determined to break the silences of the past, Emily hunts down her father, photographing locals and tourists in the hope of spotting the resemblance. The consequences are devastating and bring to the surface shocking revelations around adultery.
Playing the role of Susan, the single mum with a truckload of baggage, is Susie Porter. The acclaimed actor has made a name for herself playing roles with an emotional edge.
In Two Hands (1999) she picked up the FCCA (Film Critics Circle of Australia) award for Best Supporting Actress and in Better Than Sex (2000) she got down and dirty with David Wenham.
She even popped up as support to Cate Blanchett in the drug drama Little Fish (2005).
Speaking to bnews, Porter says she’s always been attracted to roles and films with a deeper psychology twist.
Anything that can push the boundaries, she says. It’s great that we’ve got films like Candy that do that. We need more of that in Australian films.
It’s an interesting career direction for an actor with Susie Porter’s obvious on-screen appeal. She accepts the compliment with an incredulous -˜thank you’ but can’t agree.
I’ve never viewed myself as the very attractive, beautiful movie star, she says. I could probably do with more of that in my head. I think I’ve probably given myself a lot harder time than I need to [in that respect] but I’m really not interested in that side of the business.
In The Caterpillar Wish it was Susan’s insecurity with her past (she was pregnant at 15) that sharpened Porter’s performance.
You always feel close to characters who are vulnerable and the trick for an actor is to make sure it’s not all about that public face. No one is just angry -“ there are underlying emotions to everything, she says.
That’s what I wanted to come across in Susan. We never really show how vulnerable we are publicly -“ we can’t.
The Caterpillar Wish also stars Wendy Hughes, Robert Mammone, Victoria Thaine, Phillip Quast, Khan Chittenden and Nicholas Bell. It opens today, Thursday 8 June.