Josie Alibrandi (Pia Miranda) lives with her mum, Christina (Greta Scacchi), in the protective shadow of her Nonna, Katia (Elena Cotta) and in ignorance of the identity of her father, Michael (Anthony LaPaglia). She is 17 and about to face the biggest year of her life so far, finishing school. It should be enough that she has to cope with her weird Italian heritage and the fact that she\'s about to do her HSC exams as a scholarship student at an exclusive girls\' school with high expectations of getting into university to study law. In this watershed year she discovers boys, tragedy and joy, the identity of her father, and, most of all, she begins to work out who she really is "¦

A fantastic Australian film.

Josie (Pia Miranda) is in her final year of high school, a scholarship student at a posh private school. Josie's the illegitemate child of Christina (Greta Scacchi) and she feels that because of her birth her family is cursed. Her Nonna (Elena Cotta) has a spy network to report on every misdemeanour – and is particularly put out when Josie's natural father Michael (Anthony LaPaglia) returns to Sydney after becoming a successful lawyer in Adelaide. Josie has a lot to deal with – she likes John Barton (Matthew Newton), who's from an establishment background – but is also attracted to the more freewheeling Jacob (Kick Gurry). It's a confusing time in a young woman's life...

The casting of Pia Miranda as Josie was one of those things that happen in film that are magic. She's such a wonderfully natural performer, bringing all the energy, intelligence and anguish of this wonderful character to life. But all the performances are so natural – Greta Scacchi, Anthony LaPaglia, and Elena Cotta is magnificently affecting as Nonna. But basically you just want to go on and on, mentioning each and every performance, because this film is about characters and Kate Woods direction allows you to get to know them and embrace each and every one of them. Technically this film is a joy. It's one of those Australian films that ought to get everyone excited.

David's Comments: Pia Miranda, on screen in almost ever scene, is magical in this fine adaptation of the popular book. She's supported by a uniformly excellent supporting cast in a film which is more than just the conventional rites-of-passage story about a teenage girl growing up in an ethnic community. Josie's world is full of pain, too, as well as happiness.