Don’t Tell is a gripping, suspenseful Australian drama about the incredibly important, but underrepresented, issue of child abuse. The film seizes the audience’s attention and draws them into a world they’re not sure they really want to see – but one they are ultimately enthralled by.
A beautifully written script guides this witty, touching, and darkly humorous film, that vividly re-tells the true story of a young woman – known only by her first name: Lyndal (Sara West). With the help of small-town lawyer Stephen Roche (Aden Young), and barrister Bob Myers (Jack Thompson), she seeks justice for the sexual abuse she experienced as a child at the hands of her boarding master at Toowoomba Preparatory School. West, Young and Thompson poignantly express their characters’ emotions in the courtroom battle against the school and the Church, and their characters’ struggles with inner demons.
The film proceeds effortlessly with a dramatic musical score that is deeply moving; at times creating both a sense of hope and hopelessness, of despair and deliverance.
Will Lyndal receive justice, and if she does, will she be able to move on?
The sweeping, golden fields and empty, blue skies of the Australian countryside reveal no answers, except that Mark Wareham’s cinematography doesn’t disappoint.
Don’t Tell‘s greatest achievement is its ability to make the audience connect to Lyndal’s character and story; the twisting narrative leads us further into the darkness of her past and always keeps us guessing.
Tori Garret’s phenomenal directing pushes us to believe in Lyndal’s personal strength and courage, and hope that she finds justice. This, in part, is also achieved by West’s raw, emotional acting, which is utterly breathtaking, and never more so when she shouts: “I’m not afraid of them. They should be afraid of me!” In West’s rendition of Lyndal, this film has created a true modern heroine.
However, the film fails to prioritise Lyndal’s haunting fear and unwavering bravery; too much screen time was dedicated to her lawyer’s endeavour to triumph in the courtroom. The film moves away, perhaps unconsciously, from the heart and soul of this story: Lyndal and her internal battle to overcome the trauma she experienced as a young girl.
Yet the film is undoubtedly a masterpiece, with an incredible story that is heavy, but heart-warming.
Don’t Tell is a must-see for those who wish to have their minds troubled, their hearts broken and their spirits raised.
This film achieves a great thing: it discusses a hard truth in a beautiful way.