Shaun (Kane McNay) is a 15 year old going through the turmoils of adolescence - and a chaotic home life with his mother Jenny (Nell Feeney) and sisters. He hangs around the local shopping mall with other kids for want of anything better to do. With his dad Sam (Brett Swain) just out of jail, he hopes their relationship will improve - but he hopes in vain. His mother struggles to cope and Shaun has to decide how to make the best of it for himself. His best shot may mean a break from his mum.

A teenager hangs out at shopping centres, avoiding youth workers and trying to make sense of his life.

It's quite a feat making your first film and having it selected for the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes. Vincent Giarrusso, with no previous experience in film, achieved just that with Mallboy...

Sean - Kane McNay - lives with his mother - Nell Feeney - and two seemingly pregnant and bickering sisters in a house in the burbs near a huge mall. He loves his mum, hates it when she shows him up in front of his friends, but forgives her. He runs errands for his sisters even though he's got other things on his agenda. He nicks things from the mall, he nicks dope and smokes it, he won't go to school. He's potentially a disaster area. But this kid's carrying burdens. Especially when his dad gets out of gaol and mum expects a happy homecoming, because dad's set up with another woman. Sean is caught, between his mum and his dad and between well-intentioned youth worker - Brett Tucker - and his lifestyle...

This new spin on the downhill life of a kid into drugs and crime has at its heart a terrific performance from Kane McNay, and Nell Feeney also gives a really brave performance as the most important person in Sean's life: she could so easily be a dismissable character but Vincent Giarrusso's screenplay and direction and Feeney give depth to this woman who's so desperately unhappy. Giarrusso was a youth worker, he knows the world he's depicting, he has compassion for it and it shows. This is yet another fine Australian film to be proud of.

David's Comments: A corrosive, deeply sad portrait of a boy, his family and friends, and their utterly hopeless lives. Handled with sombre realism, the film's insights into the boy's irresponsible mother are as revealing as those into the boy himself. The abrupt change of heart at the end is a significant flaw; apart from that this Loachian film impresses.