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By Merle Bertrand | February 19, 2000

Jack Russell and his teenaged son Jackie return from a weekend hunting trip earlier than planned, only to find a strange man lurking about the kitchen and Mrs. Russell packing her bags. Just that quickly, Jackie’s idyllic world comes crashing down about him, changed forever. Even when handled gracefully, divorce can be a traumatic experience. This is especially true when there are kids involved. Often blindsided by the event, they must come to terms with their parents’ suddenly too obvious flaws. Yves Stening’s “Great Falls” is a subdued and superbly crafted take on an all-too common familial crisis as seen through the bewildered eyes of one such innocent victim. Not only does this simple Australian film refuse to take sides, nicely reflecting the divided loyalties tearing at Jackie, but it doesn’t even delve into the backstory to explain how things reached such a gloomy point between Jackie’s parents. That works fine here, because the bottom line for Jackie is that his home life will never be the same again. With dad in the pub and mom driving away, Jackie’s left to pick up the pieces and fend for himself in this poignant and powerful film.

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