The story is told in flashbacks after Lilian Singer is released from a mental institution after 40 years of incarceration by her father for being too wild. Her release is eventually secured by her eccentric Aunt Kitty and her brother, John. Lilian starts to carve out a place for herself. As she explores Sydney and the people who live and work around her she sees others looking for love. Lilian shows us it is never too late to change your life and that even unusual choices can bring contentment.
The movie is based on a novel by Kate Grenville. It is fictional but loosely based on the life of legendary eccentric Bea Miles, who recited Shakespeare for a dollar on the streets of Sydney and rode taxis for a sonnet.
The spanking scene
During a flashback, Lilian recalls being spanked by her strict and cruel father in his study in three different ages: as a young girl (M/f), a teenager, then a grown woman in her early 20s (M/F). The spankings are given with his belt in the grabbing-ankles position. Her father always gives her the same two commands: "Bend." (she bends over and raises her skirt to bare her panties) and "Ankles." (she grabs her ankles). The young Lilian is played by Toni Collette; the older Lilian is played by Ruth Cracknell.