Lillian's Story (1996)

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Based on a novel by Kate Grenville about the very real story of Bea Miles, Lillian's Story explores the social and cultural meanings of madness through one woman's story. Lillian Singer, superbly played by Ruth Cracknell, has just spent the past forty years in a mental hospital. Committed for reasons stemming from her strong willed identity, the hospital has decided to let Lillian live out the rest of her life on the outside. Told episodically, Lillian has a number of adventures in the city including a friendship with a prostitute, a struggle in the rain, the search for work, and a love interest in a bank employee. For awhile Lillian is simply happy to be alive, but slowly her dark past begins to catch up with her. In the end, she must decide to either confront the demons the hospital hid for her or retreat into the shell of an artificial life. Toni Collette turns in a nuanced performance as the young Lillian and John Flaus is excellent as Lillian's ex-boyfriend, Frank.