Three sisters reunite after some years apart, for their mother’s funeral. Cressy (Rachael Maza), the eldest of the three, is a diva - an opera singer who is reluctant to visit the past and definitely doesn’t want to share it with her sisters. Mae (Trisha Morton-Thomas), has stayed behind looking after mum, and believes that Cressy hasn’t shared enough. Nona (Deborah Mailman), the youngest and the party girl, just wants them to all be one happy family.
Radiance is a screen adaptation of Louis Nowra's stage play by first time feature director Rachel Perkins. It's a film that hasn't entirely shaken off its stage origins, but somehow the emotional territory it embraces is powerful enough to make you forget anything but the fate of the three women at its heart.
Three daughters meet after a long separation after the death of their mother. May, the oldest - Trisha Morton Evans - returned before the other two to look after their mother who was suffering from advanced senility. And she's bitter. So, for that matter is middle daughter Cressy - Rachel Maza - who has carved out a very successful international career for herself as an opera singer. These two were taken away from their mother and raised in institutions, unlike Nona - Deborah Mailman who was raised on the family home looking over a beach in cane country in Queensland.
The women have three different fathers. Their mother was famously promiscuous. As they unravel the sadness of their lives in a mix of cynicism and black humour pain bubbles to the surface...
It`s not hard to see why this film made such a connection with audiences at the recent Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals. It is enormously moving, mainly due to the performances of the three women... Deborah Mailman is a powerhouse on screen, full of energy and radiance. She's completely natural. Rachel Maza is more constrained by her role as the uptight Cressy and Trisha Morton Evans brings an angularity, a perfect awkwardness that seems so right for the no-nonsense May, a woman full of hurt and anger - you should see the way she drives.
Rachel Perkins has exploited the beauty of the natural landscape with the help of first time feature cinematographer Warwick Thornton. The film has a texture that enhances the characters at its core. The dramatic structure occasionally takes a swerve into questionable territory but the film's emotional force just keeps building. I liked these women, and I felt an emotional connection to their story.
Tuesday 31 May, 9:30pm on NITV / Streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand
Director: Rachel Perkins
Starring: Deborah Mailman, Trisha Morton-Thomas, Rachael Maza