Review | Human connection helps a family heal in ‘Little Tornadoes’

Little Tornadoes | Dir: Aaron Wilson | ★ ★ ★ ★  

There was a lot happening in 1971, even in small Australian towns where everyone knew each other. But while people in the cities were protesting against the Vietnam War, prejudice against migrants was still going strong throughout the rest of the country. While Germaine Greer preached feminism in The Female Eunuch, the message hadn’t reached outlying areas of our great country.

In writer/director Aaron Wilson’s film, drone footage captures the expanse of Australia’s countryside, while the camera zooms into the quiet intensity of Leo (Mark Leonard Winter) who is struggling to survive after his wife has left him with their two children. He tries his best but he is a man of few words and still has to work every day as a factory metal worker, after getting them off to school with their lunches in paper bags.

Leo’s father (Robert Menzies), who raised his son after his wife died, is a man of even fewer words and isn’t much help. His father is a farmer who has suffered PTSD in the war, and Leo himself is also in shock after his wife’s unexplained departure. Leo doesn’t want to deal with the loss in the same way as his father who has isolated himself away from the world.

He asks Maria (Silvia Colloca), the sister of a work colleague Tony (Fabio Motta), to help him with the children. There is a huge contrast between the introverted Leo and the outgoing Maria, who is having her own struggles after the death of her husband as well as trying to find her place in this foreign country.

Co-written and narrated by Christos Tsiolkas, Little Tornadoes, which premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival, quietly plumbs into how human connection can help with the healing process.

Little Tornadoes screens exclusively at Luna Cinemas Leederville from 2 June, and there will be screening a Q&A with writer/director Aaron Wilson on Wednesday 8 June after the 6.30pm screening.

Lezly Herbert

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