DIANNE BUT­LER OUT OF THE BOX

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Monday -

THIS is a star­tling tale of cau­li­flower pick­ing in Mex­ico. Twenty years ago Burt Chance was kid­napped at gun­point when he and Virginia— baby Jimmy in tow — were stopped at a ser­vice sta­tion on a hot day.

Virginia was in­side stand­ing in front of an open drinks fridge, Jimmy was jump­ing up and down on the front seat of the car. And Burt, well, the de­tails are hazy, but a man with a long pony­tail took him to Mex­ico and forced him to pick cau­li­flower.

‘‘ That’s the rea­son your fa­ther’s al­ways hated cau­li­flower,’’ says Virginia (Martha Plimp­ton) as she breaks the news to the fam­ily. Jimmy (Lu­cas Neff): ‘‘ I thought it was be­cause it’s not a real flower and it looks like brains.’’

If only that was where the story ended. But the kid­nap­per turns up at the door tonight. Jimmy, sweet and guile­less, in­vites him in with one of those ‘‘ any friend of dad’s is a friend of mine’’ wel­comes.

Things seem to be go­ing well un­til Virginia recog­nises him, sneaks up and knocks him un­con­scious with the tele­vi­sion.

And then the blanks are filled in, what hap­pened to Burt in those miss­ing weeks in 1992 while he was away, and to Virginia. Stock­holm Syn­drome set in quickly, abet­ted by kid­nap­per Jack’s pony­tail. Burt, as he tells him early on in their re­la­tion­ship, is a big hair fan.

At home Virginia was be­ing molly-cod­dled by Of­fi­cer Ross. He’s still liv­ing on their ‘‘ movie date’’ from grade six, when the class had to watch a film on the re­pro­duc­tive sys- tem. He’s count­ing on Burt dy­ing in Mex­ico.

But Virginia soon no­tices the dif­fer­ence with Ross in the house — the fam­ily’s nicer to each other, more co-op­er­a­tive, ‘‘ like poor white Cos­bys’’. The Chances have never faced a cri­sis like this. Rais­ing Hope Eleven, 8pm

Guile­less: Lu­cas Neff

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