Ann Turner

Ann Turner's Films - What the Critics Said


10 great films about childhood…

Several of the greatest films about childhood are directorial debuts, with young directors harvesting their own youthful experiences for inspiration. To Pather Panchali, Les Quatre Cents CoupsL’Enfance-nue and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (1962) must be added Celia, Ann Turner’s startling first feature from 1989… her debut continues to haunt those who track it down.”

Samuel Wigley, British Film Institute website

“Time Out's 50 greatest directorial debuts of all time…
It’s remarkable how many filmmakers mine childhood experiences for their first feature (see The Night of the Hunter, River’s Edge… ) Very few have nailed the pre-pubescent experience better than Ann Turner, whose singular debut might be described as anti-nostalgia: a politically astute rites-of-passage horror movie with one of the grimmest endings in cinema.”

TH, Time Out

Celia is Miss Turner’s transfixing, assured, extremely lucid attempt to see the world from Celia’s point of view.  Filmed in a controlled, decorous style that recalls the deceptive serenity of a Blue Velvet, it traces Celia’s mounting anger at the tyranny of the adult world.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Like the early work of Weir and Schepisi, whose movies about aboriginal culture suggested a parallel reality, Celia is entirely comfortable with a “dreamtime” that is presented in such a way that it’s almost indistinguishable from conventional definitions of reality.

It’s Turner’s special talent, as a filmmaker and a writer, that she makes the movie’s horrific climax both shocking and somehow inevitable.  It grows out of her own sharp perceptions of childhood, which are located somewhere between the pessimistic determinism of the Lord of the Flies and the tragic beauty of Forbidden Games, with just a hint of The Bad Seed - as told from the child’s point of view.

John Hartl, The Seattle Times

“(Celia) is far more subtle than most Australian film… it triumphs over considerable odds in telling us something fresh about the magic and mystery of childhood and has a performance from Rebecca Smart in the leading role that is little short of miraculous. 

It is both sensitive and truthful, and a real pleasure to see for its lack of sentimentality and its very accurate reflections of the joys and miseries of childhood.”

Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

“I rate Celia as one of those classics of childhood such as The Fallen Idol or The 400 Blows.  And, in Rebecca Smart’s gutsy portrayal of Celia, feminism has its most youthful leader.”

Tom Hutchinson, The Mail

“It is a work to be set beside Richard Hughes’s A High Wind in Jamaica, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and John Rae’s The Custard Boys, novels that plunge through the innocent surface of children’s ritual games into a dark world where atrocious feelings take terrible forms, and acts of violence, once committed, are coolly accepted and forgotten. 

Celia has the capacity to shock and make us think.  It grows in the mind, dispersing casually sentimental ideas about childhood, and capturing a child’s sense of both timelessness and a terrible existential immediacy.”

Phillip French, The Observer

Celia is a wonderful first feature by Australian writer-director Ann Turner, and proves that a feather duster can be more effective than a shotgun in dislodging truths about the political past. 

Over two hours, supervised by the shade of Lewis Carroll, the world of sweet, suburban childhood turns into the world of Lord of the Flies.”

Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

“A gifted and deceptively complex film… Celia shows that a film can talk about serious ideas without compromising its power to intrigue and entertain.”

David Robinson, The Times

“Fresh Turner masterpiece… Celia takes a familiar subject, the growing pangs of a young girl, and succeeds in making it fresh and distinctly unsettling, largely by a simple but highly effective magnification of commonplace emotional fears and reactions… Ann Turner skilfully twists our perception of characters and events… and does so with subtle control and a genuinely cinematic imagination… an exemplary reminder of what can be done with a good script, taut direction, and a lot of imagination.”

Kenny Mathieson, Observer Scotland 

hammers over the anvil

“Full of vivid characters and moving moments… overflows with wit, elegance and sensitivity.”

Michael Hutak, Sydney Morning Herald

“A most likeable and effective drama, splendidly acted, confidently directed and always a pleasure to the eye.  Charlotte Rampling, still as alluring as ever, gives an altogether convincing performance as the adventurous, dissatisfied wife… Russell Crowe makes a compelling figure of the horseman… one of the best films of recent years.”

Walter Sullivan, The Daily Telegraph Mirror

“Ann Turner keeps the pace active and reflects the joy and pain of growing up… the youngsters reflect a real joy at the freedom, discovery and adventure of country life.”

Stan James, The Advertiser

“A great attention to historic detail… clarity of direction… Turner creates memorable images… a sensitive and lively screen adaptation of Marshall’s stories.”

Fincina Hopgood, Cinema Papers

dallas doll

“Full of unpredictable quirks and fresh performances.”

Jonathon Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

“Energetic and always engaging.”

Suzi Feay, Time Out

“Inspired comic sequences… hilarious seduction scenes… an absurdist comic vision of suburban Australia that is wicked and amusing.”

Barbara Creed, The Age

“A very wickedly bent comedy and one to watch out for.”

Julie Rigg, Radio National

“… an amusing, unpredictable comedy about an American golf pro who moves to Australia, seduces a family, and wins over a town… an allegory that indicts the seductive nature of an American lifestyle.  Dallas is as dishonest and corrupting as she is charming.  But despite the damage she does, Dallas is not all bad… a highly entertaining film.”

Steve Beard, Empire

Dallas Doll is a comic take on the clash of cultures and the current belief in belief itself… the most refreshing twist on the expected is not the jolie-laide face of the temptress, but her ambivalent nature.”

Stephanie Bunbury, The Age

“Turner’s feature unleashes a wicked sense of mischief and the kind of audacious sexual play that might make her fellow Australian filmmakers blush.”

Bryce Hallet - The Australian

“Love and lust, lies and deception, death and the devil in female form.”

Blickpunkt Filme

“Full of scripted inspirations as well as capricious visual ideas… Breaks through the monotony of Hollywood films and gives one appetite for the Australian film milieu.”

Movie, Aachen

“Divine Australian comedy.”

Marie Claire

“A funny, ironic, black, eccentric and thoroughly entertaining story, which is garnished with wonderful dramatic elements.  The highly talented Australian director has created a critical film about cultural imperialism which has countless contemporary allusions”

In Erfurt and Weimar Aktuell

“Marvellous symbolic scenes… ridicules the absurd… a funny, insolent protest against the stodginess of normalcy which is irresistible to the viewer.”



“This is an unsettling film exploring as it does, motherhood, guilt and the tenuous nature of family relationships.  It’s remarkably gripping.  The performances from Sarandon, Neill and Blunt are outstanding… well written and directed by Ann Turner.  4 Stars.”

Margaret Pomeranz, ABC At The Movies

“The less said about the plot the better, as Irresistible has a couple of fantastic twists up its sleeve that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats until the final denouement.  The performances are excellent, with Sarandon skating the thin line between sanity and madness.”

Mark Beirne, YourMovies

“Delivers surprises right to the absolute climax and that too is a twist you’re unlikely to be expecting.  Small roles for veteran Charles Tingwell as Sophie’s father and William McInnes as Mara’s live-in lover can’t take attention away from the intrigue that links Sophie and Mara.”

Des Partridge, The Courier Mail

“Combining elements of Gaslight and What Lies Beneath, writer/director Ann Turner has crafted an involving psychological thriller that had me guessing about what was happening to the very end.  I absolutely love this kind of suspense movie... Although the twist ending in Irresistible surprised me completely, it makes perfect sense”

Betty Jo Tucker, Reel Talk

“Writer-director Ann Turner has made several highly individual feature films over the last 20 years and one thing they have in common is a fascination with the deceptive appearance of everyday life.  Things seem very ordinary, very normal in Sophie’s world, but there’s a gathering storm under the surface… Ann Turner follows the complications of Sophie’s journey into complex psychological territory.  If you’ve been anywhere close yourself, you’ll connect more strongly.  The discoveries Sophie makes crack her world wide open, but for Turner it’s all about the human instinct for survival… Identity, loss, separation and love - they’re all explored in Irresistible, but within the boundaries of a deceptively conventional thriller.  It allows the wonderful Susan Sarandon to do some of her best work in a while and it promises to win plenty of fans amongst lovers of psychological mysteries.  It’s one of those films where the revelation in the last scene turns the whole story upside-down and leaves you thinking for a long time afterwards.  So, plenty of food for thought.”

Peter Thomson, Sunday on Channel Nine