September 12, 1983 12:00 PM

The Australian cultural invasion has reached the point where films as slight as this one—which is a sort of Marty Goes to Melbourne—are being thrown into the import bin. Like the ’50s TV play and movie in which Rod Steiger and then Ernest Borgnine portrayed aging men in desperate searches for romance, this is a quiet story about a shy couple trying to overcome years of social isolation. Norman Kaye, a stage actor making his movie debut, plays a piano tuner who, at 50, finds himself alone after years of caring for his mother. Wendy (My Brilliant Career) Hughes is the sexually insecure spinster he meets through a dating service. They are both involving actors, though Hughes seems a touch too terrified by her parents and everything else, while Kaye seems a little too much in control. Lonely Hearts won Australia’s 1982 best film award and Paul Cox was nominated for best director. Americans, though, may find it on the oversubdued side, and not sufficiently expressive to compensate for the lack of action. (R)

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