Picks and Pans Review: The Shiralee
PBS (Sun., April 28, 9 P.M. ET)
In a touching Australian movie, Bryan (F/X) Brown plays a former prizefighter who, on a rare trip home, discovers his wife sleeping with another man. In an impulsive moment of spitefulness, he plucks up the 10-year-old daughter (Rebecca Smart) he hardly knows and begins wandering the outback looking for work, with the girl nattering along close on his heels.
The film aired as MacCauley’s Daughter on the Disney Channel. The new title is Aussie slang for a tramp’s kit bag or, figuratively, his burden.
The setting is unusually gritty for Masterpiece Theatre. But the acting is marvelous, especially Brown’s performance as a proud, stubborn man who’s curt with the girl until she completely melts his heart. She’ll melt yours too. Smart gives the most beguiling child performance since Taturn O’Neal in Paper Moon.