15 Amore
© 1998, 2000, 2002 Vanguard Cinema

Executive Producers:
Margaret Murphy
Maurice Murphy

Producers:
Brooke Wilson
Maurice Murphy

Written and Directed By:
Maurice Murphy

Cast:

Dorothy
Lisa Hensley

Alfredo
Steve Bastoni

Joseph
Domenic Galati

Rachel
Tara Jakszewicz

Mrs. Guttman
Gertraud Ingeborg

Mercia
Rhiana Griffith

Brendan
Nicholas Bryant

Denis
Joel Pieterse

With:
Genevieve Clay
Michael Harrop
Peter Hayes
Bill Hunter
Barry O'Connor
Garth Russell

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Set in World War II-Era Australia, 15 Amore is the story of the MacLelland family. Dorothy (Lisa Hensley), its young matriarch, is raising her three children while her husband -- who has never even seen his youngest child, Brendan (Nicholas Bryant, and Bill Hunter as his adult, narrating, voice) -- is away at war. To assist her in maintaining her farm, the Australian government has provided her with two laborers, Italian Prisoners-of-War Alfredo (Steve Bastoni) and Joseph (Domenic Galati).

The two men, both of them really men of peace who are happy to be out of the war and in domestic service, have slowly integrated into the family over the years. Alfredo has taken on many of the fatherly responsibilities towards the children, while Joseph has become something of an older brother to them. They are servants, but more... and Alfredo, married himself, has fallen in love with Dorothy. The family exists in a precarious balance, with many things going unsaid and unexamined in order to maintain it.

This balance will be upended by the arrival of Mrs. Guttman (Gertraud Ingeborg) and her beautiful daughter Rachel (Tara Jakszewicz), German Jews who have sought asylum in Australia and been given domestic labor positions at the Wallalong estate. Although Rachel is happy to embrace her new land and begin building a new life for herself, her mother is not.

Mrs. Guttman remains, in her heart, devotedly German. She resents her fall from her former aristocratic position and considers herself far better than the MacLellands, for whom she now works. When the war is over, she tells herself, she and her daughter can return to their rightful places, and leave behind the alternately alluring and terrifying wilds of Australia.

But when Rachel embarks upon a romance with Joseph, this begins to shatter Mrs. Guttman's fantasies, and she becomes unbalanced. Determined to find a way to separate the young couple, she makes several attempts to get both Alfredo and Joseph discredited and removed from the farm. When her attempts fail, she makes a horrifying last-ditch effort, accusing the men of molesting Rachel's eleven-year-old daughter Mercia (Rhiana Griffith).

Mercia has long known about -- and has been protecting the secret of -- Rachel's affair with Joseph. Uncomprehending of the real meaning of the questions she is suddenly being asked, her attempts to continue protecting the secret inadvertently back up Mrs. Guttman's claims... shattering the peace of the MacLelland family.

Rich and multifaceted, 15 Amore is a story about love, loyalty, and class struggles. It is told from the perspective of Brendan, the youngest MacLelland child, who has only ever known Alfredo as a father, and whose views on life are a semi-autobiographical mirror of the movie's creator, Maurice Murphy. These are his fictionalized memoirs of life in World War II Australia, and what war, peace, and love mean to the bemused children who must watch supposedly all-knowing adults play it out. Lush and beautiful, with glowing performances throughout, 15 Amore is well worth seeing and you will swiftly see exactly why it made Rhiana Griffith fall in love with acting.

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