Film Review (2nd take): HERE I AM (2011)

31 May

By Ines Pereyra

‘Here I Am’ seems a story like many others, of a woman (Karen) returning from the brink, with scores to settle and lives to mend.   However, this is not a film about vengeance, it is more so about growth, understanding of one’s own mistakes, and the prices paid.

This is a story that could be told anywhere, and belong to anyone, but the fact that director Beck Cole chose such strong female Aboriginal characters, and the background of a city that holds their stories, gives us a sense of an open window into a culture that surrounds us, but we may know so little about.  For me, this became most obvious sitting in the audience, listening to the cheers and cues from a proud Indigenous following that brought insight to ideals, creative meaning and feelings of belonging.


Cole’s husband (Warwick Thornton) threads together images of the city, and what feel like notebook pictures of Karen’s journey, with songs of country that speak the words of her emotional ride.  ‘Here I Am’ speaks loudly about women’s needs and challenges, but with a voice that lets these shine.

The title speaks of an outside plead to her inner self. Where the initial scenes where Karen walks the streets alone, to the sounds of solitude, fear and isolation open the door to her world.  She knows she wants her child back, her mother’s approval and the warmth of a home, but is initially to afraid to claim these, or perhaps she feels still undeserving.  Jail was a whiteman’s penalty, forgiveness need come from within.  The ‘prostituting’ scene seems more a punishment than a survival strategy – the type that can be given and received only by one’s self, before feeling ready to change one’s world.

The beauty of this film, though, is the way that women rule their world.  Strong, tough women, so different, yet filled with equal journeys.  Women that stand together to change within, to support and to encourage acceptance outside.

As the title implies, this story is about being seen, and being heard again.  An idea most strongly developed in the sounds of Karen’s solitude as she lays alone in her bed asking God (perhaps), to help her care for her family, her friends and loved ones.

A journey about knowing where to be, but learning to get there…an inner scream.

Here I Am is released in cinemas on June 2nd. Read our first take by Mia Robinson here

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