Review / ‘Don’t Tell’ (M) ****

WHEN telling a true story, verity and credibility should be at the forefront of the filmmaker’s mind.

And it is so in the case of Anne Brooksbank’s screenplay written to guide director Tori Garrett in telling how Queensland schoolgirl Lyndal’s story led to the abolition of jury trials in civil cases and was influential in persuading Archbishop Peter Hollingworth to resign from the office of Governor-General.

At age 12, Lyndal, a boarder at Toowoomba’s Anglican Preparatory School, was groomed by teacher Kevin Guy who eventually had frequent sex with her and persuaded her that she should not tell anybody. A decade later, Lyndal, a morose, sullen young woman totally unlike the bright, happy child whose emotional stability had been totally wrecked by Guy’s behaviour, sought help from solicitor Steve Roche (Aden Young) less to get monetary compensation than to have her story heard and believed.

“Don’t Tell” is a forensic thriller that draws on not only the record of the litigation but, almost certainly, interviews with real people whose involvement in the case was significant.

Knowing the outcome of the case, a matter of public record, does not diminish the film’s dramatic power. Rather, getting there leaves us admiring the forensic talent of the barrister who overcame not only the defendant’s legal team but also overt obstruction by school management outside the court and clandestine concealment of relevant records.

Top marks to Sara West for her portrayal of Lyndal as an adult, Jack Thompson as Bob Myers pleading her case before Judge Margaret Wilson (Caroline Kennison), Jacqueline McKenzie as the barrister for the school, Gyton Grantley as the paedophile Kevin, whose suicide note did not get admitted in evidence, and Robert Taylor as school council chairman Robert Brewster.

Of such components are compelling cinema made.

At Palace Electric and Capitol 6

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