Inside Looking Out

  • aka Two in the Family (working title only)

Robert (Tony Llewellyn-Jones) is an ambitious journalist, his wife Elizabeth (Briony Behets) a devoted mother, but their marriage is disintegrating, and they have lost interest in each other.

Robert seeks refuge in his work, when not being distracted by a precocious babysitter (Juliet Bacskai), and Elizabeth prefers to spend time with their child Dani (Dani Eddy)... while their friends, well-off piano and organ-playing Alex (Norman Kaye) and Marianne (Elke Neidhart) do their best to sympathise with the erratic, troubled young couple ...

The story explores a week in their lives, "exploring each character's refusal or inability to acknowledge the emptiness of their relationship". (Oxford Australian Film).

(For a more detailed synopsis, with many spoilers, see this site's "about the movie" section).


Exec producers:
Production Designers:
Art Directors:

Production Details

Production company: Illumination Films

Budget: A$46,000, including investment of half the budget by federal government funding body the Australian Film Commission (Oxford Australian Film); $50,000 (Colin Bennett, The Age); Paul Cox told the Adelaide Advertiser on 12th July 1977 that the budget was $50,000, with $32,000 coming from the AFC, and the rest from Cox, Tony Llewellyn-Jones and other friends. (David Stratton puts the AFC investment at $33,000 and the total budget at $49,000 in his book The Last New Wave).

Locations: Melbourne, Victoria - including inner city suburbs such as Fitzroy and the Prahan shopping centre car park.

Filmed: early 1977. The film's wiki here quotes David Stratton as saying the film was shot over three weeks, January-February 1977. Cox claimed in the Advertiser interview that he spent six months on the filming and editing of the film.

Australian distributor: Self (i.e. Cox/Illumination Films)

Australian release:  premiered at the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, June 1977 - Stratton dates the first screening to the 4th June, 1977 at the Melbourne Film Festival.

It was given its first commercial screening, a week at the Glenelg Cinema Centre, Adelaide, in early July 1977 to qualify for the AFI awards. It then opened commercially at the Dendy Crows Nest Sydney, 24th November 1977, running through December, and opening in Melbourne at the Longford Cinema in February 1978.

Rating: M

35mm    Eastmancolor  

Running time: 88 mins (Oxford Australian Film); 90 mins (Paul Cox's website and David Stratton's The Last New Wave)

VHS copy: 1'25"49

Box office: minimal. The film did a reasonable tour of the arthouse indie circuit, but the determinedly interior, brooding, "relationships falling apart" arthouse material didn't reach a wide audience.




None known. It received no nominations or awards at the AFI Awards.

Perhaps in compensation, Cox's short We Are All Alone My Dear won the Silver Award in the Best Documentary category at the 1977 Australian Film Institute Awards, but this, his second feature, got tangled in the AFI's new requirement of entry into the awards being conditional on a commercial release.

Cox wrote an anguished letter to The Age complaining about being blind-sided, unsurprising given that such awards are much more important for arthouse product that for mainstream commercial films.

Under the header Prize nonsense on 21st May 1977, Cox wrote in praise of The Age's film critic Colin Bennett's attack on the restructuring of the awards:

Sir,- Despite Barry Jones' irrelevant protestations to the contrary ("The Age, 14/5), from my experience it would appear that Colin Bennett's article Our Film Awards Take a Step Backwards (7/5) is well timed and most appropriate. In the present climate it seems that the Australian Film Institute has lost sight of its role in the Australian film industry.

Once a body which embraced all aspects of film making, it has served the useful function of directing public attention to films which might otherwise have eluded commercially oriented Australian distributors. That is a role it has now abandoned. Entrants for the Australian film awards are now required to obtain a commercial release of their films before the time of the awards.

Not only is this regulation a last-minute calculation to limit the entries to what is deemed by distributors to be commercially viable, but if The Devil's Playground had been entered under the current conditions, it would have been rejected as ineligible to compete.

Commercial viability is quite properly a consideration for those playing the money game, but for an institution supposedly committed to the promotion ofthe Australian cinema such concern is nothing short of a scandal.

We recently completed a feature Inside Looking Out. Much effort was made to have the film ready in time for the AFI awards, only to find the AFI had seen fit to demote the issue of quality apparently in line with the demands of powers which have no place in determining the policy of the institute. Unless commercial distribution is obtained before the end of this month, Inside Looking Out will not be eligible for the awards in the feature category, but will be allowed to compete for the Jury prize! Thank you very much.

The aims of the AFI are "to provide a stimulus to Australian film productions and to call public attention to the latest achievements of the nation's film industry". The method used is most disheartening. Paul Cox (Illumination Films, Prahan).

Cox hastily arranged a screening at the Glenelg Cinema Centre, South Australia in early July 1977 for a week to qualify for the awards, but it was a wasted effort. The unhappy film-maker got only a consolation gong for his short film, and Inside Looking Out missed out altogether ...


Digital copies derived from a VHS source circulate amongst collectors, quality contingent on source. Some of these copies have time code in the top of the frame.

Surprisingly, the film is not part of the Paul Cox film collection available from artfilms, details here as of July 2013 (the package also doesn't contain Cox's first feature, Illuminationsand starts with his third film, Kostas - the collection is also relatively expensive in the home use category).

Just as surprising, Cox's first two feature films weren't listed in his personal website, unlike his later slate - not that this is a major issue, because when last checked, the website  was no longer active and it wasn't saved in a useful way by the Wayback Machine.

The archive has preservation materials, details here.

The film will only be of interest to Cox specialists, but even so, it's tortured view of relationships in inner city Melbourne will have a nostalgic appeal to those who themselves went through this kind of tortured relationship, much in vogue in the well-off middle, vaguely alternative and aspirational class that dwelt in suburbs such as Fitzroy and shopped in Prahran. (While aiming at being less autobiographical and more objective than his first feature, Cox himself in his early years experienced marriage difficulties, and worked in Prahan).

1. Source:

Cox wrote the script several years before it went into production, co-scripting with Suzanne Holly Jones.

Ironically, Cox in one interview said that he proceeded to throw out a lot of the scripted dialogue, preferring to concentrate in the shoot on "the silences between people ... people usually trust these silences too much and suddenly it's all over." (Adelaide Advertiser, 12 July 1977 - this technique particularly irritated critic for The Age, Colin Bennett).

But then consistency wasn't Cox's forte, as in an interview in Cinema Papers July 1977 he suggested exactly the opposite:

Inside Looking Out is the first time I have used a lot of dialogue, and, as you know, the script was originally written with Susan Holly-Jones (sic, as per film's credits), who contributed a lot. Tony Llewellyn-Jones and Bernard Eddy also contributed greatly to the shooting script.

The rest has all been improvised. I find the awkwardness of Juliet's line (the babysitter at one point says "We all have our private madnesses") quite good: it fits her character, it fits the situation. She is with the man she is sexually attracted to; she is prying on his unhappy marriage and gets a lot of kicks out of it. But as she really doesn't know how to handle that in an adult sort of fashion, there is a awkwardness about her delivery. I don't mind that at all.

I know it is a long-standing criticism of my films. But you can't really talk about dialogue in all the other films, because it is hardly there. I have always avoided it. I have a great respect for the silent films which told very clear stories without ever resorting to dialogue...

While talking at times, I say something absurd, just to break through the codes It breaks down the whole nonsense game and gives us a chance to relax and touch.

Images are the most unshakeable arguments. In fact there are no arguments about them. I often become so frustrated about words, and how to use them that I have, at times, overstated things on purpose.

Cox told the Adelaide Advertiser on 12th July 1977 that he didn't feel much sympathy for the characters he filmed:

"To me they are very weak, portraying something that's a terrible disease in society. It's their own weakness and they haven't got the ability to look after themselves. Their jobs became an escape, their daughter becomes an escape - everybody escapes from one another, including themselves."

Cox proposed the film was a kind of moral instruction or challenge, to make viewers reflect on their own lives after watching his story of a marriage breaking down:

"Everybody should investigate his own life all the time, every day. We should check where we're going ... what we've been up to."

Cox's co-writer, Suzanne Holly Jones, was born 20th September 1944, and came to early attention by writing her first novel Harry's Child, at the age of 19 (published in 1964), and then publishing her second in 1974, Crying in the Garden. She then only published a couple of short stores, and died 19 March 2009.  Jones went through a career change in the 1970s, attending Toorak State College and becoming a distinguished figure in maths and science education. In the film, she is credited as "Susan Holly Jones".

Austlit (subscription service) provided these details for the period up to her working with Cox:

Suzanne Holly Jones was educated at Huntingtower School, Mount Waverley, Victoria, and began a degree at the University of Melbourne. She worked with physically handicapped children in Melbourne and 'studied as an apprentice playwright' (Under Twenty-Five (1966): 194) before marrying and living for a time in England. She wrote her first novel, Harry's Child, when she was 19. Jones also also wrote screenplays and with Monique Schwartz she made a videorecording, Pauses (1980) on the lives of three Australian working women...

...The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature comments that her novels are 'distinguished by a striking, impressionistic style...[and] explore elusive elements in human relationships'. (Further details on Jones at Aust Lit here).

2. Production:

This was director Paul Cox's first film in 35mm. He had begun his working life as a photographer, and helped launch the photographic department at the Prahan College of Advanced Education, where he became more interested in moving pictures and began lecturing in film.

The production was finished over over a lengthy period - it took six months to complete the shooting and post-production.

Actress Briony Behets, bored with television work, offered her services at a reduced rate, and Cox's "stock company" of friends and crew also lined up to help - actor Tony Llewellyn-Jones, as well as playing the co-lead, invested in the film.

Cox devised new ways of working with his actors - new to him at least, including improvisation, as he explained in his July 1977 Cinema Papers interview:

... giving freedom to actors has brought a lot of fresh ideas and a new way of looking at things. When you learn a new language, it takes a long time to learn the right words, and explain exactly what you are on about. And finally when you have learned to speak, you realize that a whisper is more powerful. So you become more pronounced in your whispering, and if you can find the right actors to quietly "live" in front of the camera you should be able to make silence speak ...

Jean Campbell, who featured in Cox's documentary We Are All Alone My Dear, about her life in an old people's home where she was unable to share her interest in the arts with others, appears briefly in a cameo in the film, as a neighbour.

3. Release:

The film didn't perform well, even in arthouse venues, perhaps because it was considered too bleak and depressing. Cox was forced to head to Adelaide for a week's release to comply with an Australian Film Institute ruling that films must have a commercial release before they could be entered into the awards. 

The process alienated Cox, but thereafter other releases of the film in major cities were similarly incoherent and uncommercial, with Cox unable to find a mainstream distributor and forced to self-distribute.

Ironically, Cox sometimes sounded as alienated and as unhappy as the story and the characters he'd filmed - even as he tried to pitch the film to potential viewers:

Basically if you make a film about the human condition, even talk about it, what you feel and what you're all about (and not about the weather) - you're already an outcast. You've had it. People don't really want to know about themselves, about their own potential. (Adelaide Advertiser, 12th July 1977).

Cox expanded on these notions in his July 1977 Cinema Papers' interview:

Everyone looking at the film must somehow be looking at him or herself. That is the idea. Look at yourselves, investigate your lives, your motivations. The purpose of our lives lies in very small things, but if we can't find the time or the answers, we must be careful not to ruin other people's lives. People do this constantly.

Cox proposed that there was hope for the two main characters:

Yes, if they learn to investigate their existence and situation properly and not use any little thing as an excuse. Elizabeth uses her daughter as an excuse; Robert, his work; and both use the comfort of their friends as an escape, and their little daughter communicates better with her pet rabbit than with her parents.

We look for something warm, a little corner to sneak away into. We all need shelter and warmth, but it mustn't become an escape. One must be aware of the process that one is going through ...

Fortunately Cox left behind the brooding about relationships that featured in his first two films - Illuminations in 1976 started him on this "personal cinema" path, and Inside Looking Out is in the same style, but his 1979 film Kostas, took on a more social realist air while looking at a Greek man and an Australian woman in what Cox anticipated would be a kind of variant on Lady Chatterley's Lover down under. He later turned to comedy in films such as the 1981 Lonely Hearts, and struck both a critical and popular, commercial chord.

Fortunately, as his later films attracted a little more attention at the box office, Cox's defiant attitude to money, as expressed in his Cinema Papers' interview, became less problematic:

... why is it that we always come back to the money question? You know, when Von Sternberg was here, someone asked him, "How do you start in film?" His answer was simple and to the point: "Just get yourself a camera."

As I said before, if you believe in something strongly enough it will happen.

Both Illuminations and Inside Looking Out showed that while Cox might be able to make films that he believed in, he needed something more to make audiences believe they were worth paying money to see.

Cox went on to compile a remarkable list of independent, arthouse inclined feature films, but significantly his first two films aren't available commercially, while the rest are. Perhaps it's a sign that he considers them juvenilia.

4. Music:

Cox did the music with Norman Kaye, a long time member of Cox's stock company, as performer and composer.

In an interview in Cinema Papers, July 1977, Cox said this about his approach to the film's sound:

Sound is important too. It is vital to have an idea of sound before you start making a film. Why start to compose sound after you have done the film? Why not compose the soundtrack first? I was very conscious of the sound for Inside Looking Out, though not the particular notes. I knew exactly how it should be, and because of my relationship with Norman Kaye, and the way in which we tend to feel the same things through music, he was able to create what I wanted. He is a very musical man, though much underrated. We managed to coperate well.

So the sound becomes part of the whole structure of the film and it integrates. It has a thematic and emotive function. It helps to make people move with whatever you feel.

Kaye provided a simple theme on piano which occurs a number of times, and he is also seen playing a church organ in a climactic emotional moment between his and Briony Behets' character - Kaye's interest in music was given momentum by his time as a church organist.

5. Detailed Synopsis:

As a piano tinkles, and we hear the sound of a noisy child, the camera moves in and over a back fence to see a couple pacing back and forwards inside a glass-panelled door.

During the head credits we hear the couple shouting at each other in a domestic, and then Elizabeth (Briony Behets) bursts out of the two story terrace into the street.

Watched  by a neighbour (Jean Campbell from Cox's We're All Alone My Dear), Elizabeth clambers into a car and drives off, leaving head-slumped Robert (Tony Llewellyn-Jones) in the house with young stuffed-toy holding Dani (Dani Eddy).

Robert gets a pan to sweep up the broken glass, and taking his anger out on the child, who retreats into the garden, and then into a loft space where she keeps a pet rabbit, Frou-Frou.

We cut to Alex (Norman Kaye) playing a classical piece on the piano, then stopping when the phone rings and he hears a garbled Elizabeth in a public phone box asking if she can come over. Alex says his companion (Marianne) has gone out and he'll leave the door open.

Elizabeth wanders through a palatial garden outside a palatial house, then comes inside to the sounds of Alex still on the piano. The phone rings - it's Robert trying to track her down - but Elizabeth hangs up.

Robert rings up a woman, Maria, asking if her daughter Juliet (Juliet Bacskai) can come over on a baby-sitting mission.

Marianne (Elke Neidhart) returns to the palatial home with shopping and is startled to see Elizabeth. "You look terrible," she tells Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, Juliet is knocking on the terrace door and Robert lets her in, as she tells him the pile of study books she's carrying are designed to reassure her parents.

While Juliet takes charge of Dani, the pipe-smoking Robert watches her in a mirror. "Everyone has their own private madnesses," Juliet observes to Robert, saying she does, and asking if he and Elizabeth do, before Robert makes a hasty farewell.

Juliet plays patti-cakes with Dani, and then offers to read her a story. But when she goes to get the book, she begins prying into private things in the study.

As Juliet starts reading a children's story to Dani, we switch to Robert in the Fitzroy traffic, shouting "bloody migrant" at a four wheel drive that turns left from the right hand lane.

Meanwhile, Marianne is blathering about her antique shopping - found a beautiful lamp - to a glazed Elizabeth. 

Marianne's interrupted by her mother (uncredited) speaking a foreign language, then Alex comes into the kitchen to greet them and offer a drink. 

Marianne gets up to get the drink, and in the lounge, Alex gives Elizabeth an affectionate, almost intimate peck on the cheek.

As Juliet picks up a mysterious envelope from the study, Robert joins the party, and serves himself a beer, while Marianne awkwardly asks them both for a bite to eat. Elizabeth says to Robert that he might have stayed at home with Dani.

Back at their home, Juliet is busy ferreting through  intimate, romantic letters (read aloud on the soundtrack by Elizabeth) as a piano tinkles: "...Darling, please be there for me. It will take a bit more time but I will come soon. Fate (and instincts?) have always guided me and to a great extent have made my decisions. With you I feel the meaning of complete happiness. Soon we will share an eternity of sunrises; I want none of them to be wasted…" etc.). 

The outpouring continues over a juxtaposition of the alienated Elizabeth and Robert.

Alex breaks the spell by asking Robert how his story's going. Not too bad, he replies, but there's still a fair amount of research to do - it's hard to break into the circle. He makes a snide remark about the way Jane is supposed to be handling it, but he's not convinced women know what to look for in this sort of article - they seem to miss out on the essential facts, he says, as he looks sourly at Elizabeth.

Alex replies that maybe women see different essentials, but when he asks Elizabeth what she thinks, she says she wouldn't know, and Robert sneers again.

Marianne rescues the situation by asking Elizabeth to give her a hand in the kitchen, but her chat about Dani and Robert and asparagus alienates Elizabeth more.

Now Juliet is reading another letter, this one by Robert. As Juliet looks at a photo of Elizabeth, we hear Robert's voice:  "…How long do I have to wait? I've never known such longing. I want to hold you, to touch your skin, your face, your smile. Today was terrible. The editor still complains that I can't paraphrase. My reports are too verbose and don't fit into his precious columns … I don't care, I've got better things to do. I try to remember your face, putting together the puzzle of your eyes, nose and mouth. I feel guilty about your husband. We hurt and get hurt many times, but through pain we become more sensitive to the pain of others, and intolerant of anything that is meaningless. I've learnt that much if I've learnt anything. Elizabeth, we've touched something that very few people ever experience. We must not waste something so precious.I found this poem last night. Thirsty, impatient waves rise and sink, you lower the sky, enfolding me, and suddenly I hear your voice blowing and sweeping over my forgotten tracks. I don't how who wrote it, it certainly wasn't me …Hold me close to you, please come soon. I miss you, I love you …"

Alienated Elizabeth is in the bathroom, flushing the toilet and staring at herself in the mirror.

Back at the home, Juliet is in the shower, and, as she listens to 50s rock 'n roll, she proceeds, in the nude, to lather herself up and shave off her pubic hair using Robert's shaving cream and razor. She's interrupted by Elizabeth on the phone asking about Dani, and telling her they're having dinner and they won't be long.

In the dining room, Elizabeth tells Alex she'd love to talk to him and he holds her and says he'll ring her tomorrow.

Meanwhile the babysitter is now into the booze and watching the TV.

Dinner over, Marianne shifts the talk to the need to watch out for nymphets. Elizabeth gets the giggles and an argument develops over whether to let the dog Waddles inside the house. Alex laughs at the notion of Waddles on heat - she's not exactly a chicken. The bickering continues - what about Waddles out in the street, asks Elizabeth, and Alex finally has to counsel Elizabeth with a word of advice that Marianne doesn't want Waddles in the house for any reason. And she's got very good reasons, even if he doesn't know what they are.

Eventually there are farewells out the front (Waddles sneaks into the house), but then Elizabeth refuses to go with Robert. 

When he says she can't stay there, Marianne says of course she can. Robert erupts, saying she broke the glass bottle they gave them a couple of years ago, and Alex tells him to cool it, but Robert says no, there's nothing to be cool about. 

Elizabeth screams at him to fucking shut up, but he refuses and shouts back at her that perhaps she can come around and say good morning to Dani or good lunch or something because she didn't say good night. Then he storms off, apologising to Marianne for his outburst as he goes …

Elizabeth has hidden herself in the garden, but then is escorted inside by Alex.

Back at home, Robert spies the shapely legs of the babysitter asleep on the lounge. 

He finishes off a glass of alcohol and switches off the now snow-laden TV, then attempts to wake Juliet.

Robert sits down beside her, and runs a hand over her young thigh, and then leans over to kiss her on the body. The image goes to black, then comes up over Elizabeth wide awake in her white-sheeted strange bed as the wind blows and shadows swirl and a bird flutters above her and noises suggest that Alex is having an orgasm though he doesn't appear in shot.

Heavy chords erupt on the piano, as Elizabeth rolls on the bed in seeming emotional distress.

The next morning, Dani returns to the hutch in the loft to play with her rabbit, then

in bright daylight, Robert's car turns up at the Prahan shopping centre's car park, with Elizabeth and Dani on board. 

The family head into Coles New World but Dani says she wants to be with Frou-Frou the rabbit and Elizabeth takes her back to the car.

The alienated couple do the alienating supermarket shopping, and when Elizabeth reminds him that Chris and Maudie are coming to dinner, Robert begs off and she throws the roast back into the fridge.

When Elizabeth loads up the trolley with biscuits, Robert objects, but she reminds him there's Dani's birthday party tomorrow and besides she's the best judge of what Dani eats.

When they return to the car, Frou-Frou is in the back, but Dani is missing. The anxious couple begin racing around the car park, calling out to Dani, and Elizabeth waves down a couple of motorbike cops who drive around looking for the child.

The couple eventually discover Dani sitting in a park watching the pigeons. 

There's a break in the parental tension as a piano tinkles and the threesome return to the car.

Back at home, Frou-Frou is in the hutch and Dani is doing water-colours when Elizabeth offers her a chance to lick the spoon. 

But when Robert tries to reminisce about his sixth birthday, Elizabeth takes the child away in search of candles.

Now, with the piano tinkling, it's the brooding Robert's turn to look out the back window as Elizabeth and Dani play together in the backyard.

Robert decides to have a shave - his can of shaving foam is mysteriously almost empty and the blade is blunt - and then the phone rings and it's the nymphet Juliet, and she says she's coming over, she's got something to show Elizabeth.

Preparations for the birthday party proceed, and as Elizabeth suns herself, she's joined by Juliet. 

Elizabeth talks about the grand notions she had when she was 16, that somehow seemed to atrophy, seep away, disintegrate, not given the right food.

Juliet has brought her a poem which she reads: "…You were once a flower in the forest of life, your tears were your petals, your love was your colour, you thought yourself to be the brightest jewel, only to be outshone by the stars ... etc", as Robert and Dani wander through a pet shop and look at all the caged creatures and a dancing cockie…

Back with Juliet and the poem: "And as you slowly tear your path through the tangled b(r?)ook of loneliness, you experience a repeated sound, as if from the honeyed throat of a bee, you become stronger and the weather's more easily destroyed, your eyes open on to light. Why has the music stopped?"

Robert and Dani arrive back, but Robert's forgotten the balloons, and heads off to see Alex, asking if there are any messages and snapping "what's the matter with you?" when Elizabeth asks whether there should be any …

As Dani and Juliet play with Frou-Frou, Elizabeth has a strange look on her face.

Marianne welcomes Robert, who wants the magazines Alex mentioned, but Alex has taken Waddles to the park.

Marianne offers Robert a drink, but he heads off to the park in search of Alex, where they talk in 'wild line' form as Robert asks Alex what he should do - he doesn't want to leave Elizabeth.

Alex says he can't offer any useful advice.

The piano resumes tinkling, as Elizabeth watches a napping Dani lying in a kind of pouf bean bag. She takes the child to bed, then heads into the bathroom to look at herself in a mirror and pours out a quantity of drugs, gulping them down.

Elizabeth retreats to bed and watches Indian mystics cavort (one with snakes) to exotic music on the TV.

When she hears Robert returning, she pretends to be asleep. Robert whispers at her, but getting no response, takes off his clothes and slides in beside her.

Robert tries to wake Elizabeth, then slides on top of the grimacing, still eyes closed Elizabeth. When she opens her eyes, it's to stare at the ceiling with repugnance, as Robert brings himself to a groaning climax.

The act of coitus over, the piano resumes tinkling as the alienated couple lie in bed, and then the next morning, Elizabeth says she didn't want to talk - they should have talked last night - and Robert suggests their relationship might have reached a point where they can't be honest with each other. "One of us no longer cares," he says, and Elizabeth denies it's her. She races upstairs, crying, followed by Dani, who reminds her it's her birthday.

Elizabeth says she's sorry and hugs her and wishes her a happy birthday, while Robert reads the paper.

A little later, Robert is blowing up balloons and Elizabeth is explaining to Dani that she just has to go out for a little while, so Dani needs to help daddy with the preparations for the birthday party.

Elizabeth turns up at a church where Alex is giving the organ a work-out, and they sit together on the organ bench, as she explains she feels drained like an emotional cripple, and they're incapable of talking unless they're in a screaming match, and they're using a code system - good morning, how are you, nice to see you - that means nothing and when she tries to explain how she feels, he just stares at her. "Inside I have this longing … it just becomes unbearable…. It's amazing how people dry up ..."

Alex says he knows what she means - he takes it out on the organ - and they both begin to hit random notes and Alex puts on a whimsical hat, while down below a priest (Brian Taylor) is disturbed by the noise as he tries to arrange flowers  …

When the priest asks Alex if he's giving a lesson, Alex cheekily replies they're working on the love duet from Handel's Messiah. "Rude bastard, let's get out of here," says Alex.

Back at home, the birthday party is underway, with children arriving and playing in the back yard.

Alex turns up with another goldfish for Dani's bowl, and Marianne offers a doll saying  little girls have to grow up to be little ladies, and then it's on with the eating of lollywater and cakes, as the neighbour watches on over the fence.

After three cheers, Dani cuts the cake, 

The grumpy neighbours raps the fence and asks if they'd mind keeping quiet, and Elizabeth gets a half hour extension on the noise-making by inviting her over sometime.

Dani's distressed to discover someone's tipped over the bag, and her fish has fallen out. When the fish is put in the bowl, it floats to the top, dead. A crying child throwing a tantrum puts the final damper on the mood, and Alex and Marianne leave.

The piano tinkles over the deserted party table and the balloons in the garden, and then we're with the babysitter and the wife in the bedroom, and Juliet tells Elizabeth that she thinks Alex has a really lovely face, a "daydream face".

When Elizabeth asks her about Robert, Juliet tells her Robert's got a stern face, hard on the surface, very business-like, but she wouldn't know, she can't look at it for too long, or she'd see straight through it.

She tells Elizabeth he's got problems, his outside face keeps slipping off, and every now and then he shows a sympathetic face, with real understanding, a longing, yearning, seeking face.

But Elizabeth denies ever having seen his feelings face.

Elizabeth hastily leaves, but as she drives through the Fitzroy streets, a police car sets its siren blaring and they pull her over. 

She's trapped in her car bowl like the fish in her bowl - so the visual metaphor suggests - and that night as the piano tinkles, she stands outside the window in the darkness, watching her partner and friends talk over the evening meal, the fish bowl in the foreground.

Elizabeth heads into Dani's room to look at her sleeping child. She gets undressed and slides into bed beside her, being careful not to disturb her, and they rest together, Elizabeth's face in the half-light a mask, Dani asleep with mouth open. The image cuts to black, and the end credits roll over the black.