- Movie Rating -

Careful, He Might Hear You (1983)

| August 24, 1984

About halfway through the Australian family drama Careful, He Might Hear You? I began to realize that my entire reaction to the film was positive only because it was about a little boy who is being jerked around by a world of adults.  Who wouldn’t be sympathetic?  What hard-hearted churl would frown at a movie like this?

Well, after that realization, I became that churl because I realized that this is a movie manipulated by the script into having every dramatic element depends solely on everyone understanding exactly the wrong thing and having the kid say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time.  The kid’s dialogue is manipulated to keep the proceedings going.

The kid is named P.S. and he is a very sad little boy, not without reason.  His father has disappeared, his mother died giving birth to him and he is stuck in the middle of a custody battle between two aunts of different social and financial and emotional levels.  One is his Aunt Lila (Robyn Niven) who has raised him but isn’t able to give him any kind of real stability.  The other is his Aunt Vanessa (Wendy Hughes) has just returned from overseas and decides that she can give him a much better life.

Right there you have the seeds of a very compelling drama and I found it very easy to get caught up in what was happening.  P.S. is so quiet and withdrawn and sad that you worry about him almost on general principle.  The problem is that the movie is not very well written.  Everything that P.S. says is misunderstood, and misinterpreted in ways that bring the plot this way and that.  Whenever he speaks, he says exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time and it happens so often that it takes the form of bad comedy.

I really did not want to dismiss this film, but I cannot be charitable here.  This movie has a good story to tell but tells it in a way that feels manipulative, and that’s not good when an emotionally fragile child stands at the movie’s center.  Careful, He Might Hear You is a potentially good movie that needed another rewrite, a better approach.  Something.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Drama