Director John Duigan first attracted attention with such low-budget films as The Trespassers (1976) and Mouth to Mouth (1978), which he also wrote and directed. These films were centered in Duigan's adopted homeland of Australia, but their theme of youthful alienation and confusion struck a universal chord. Duigan's The Year My Voice Broke (1988) is perhaps the best of his many explorations of the painful coming-of-age process; its sequel, the 1991 Flirting was similarly effective in its portrayal of disaffected teens in love.
Duigan also varied his subject matter with Romero (1989), a heartfelt but objective biography of controversial Salvadorian clergyman Oscar Romero, and Wide Sargasso Sea (1992), an adaptation of Jean Rhys' tale of madness and seduction. In 1994, Duigan won acclaim for Sirens, a likably erotic story of artistic expression in the Australian Outback of the 1920s starring Hugh Grant and Sam Neill. After finding further critical--if not commercial--approval with films like The Journey of August King (1995) and Lawn Dogs (1997), Duigan reappeared in 1999 with Molly, the story of an autistic woman (Elisabeth Shue) who is revealed to be a genius following surgery to cure her of her mental affliction.