Opal Dream
If her friends really are imaginary, who put up the flyers? Aha! I’ve got you now!

Theatrical Release Date: 09/07/2006 (Australia), 11/22/2006 (USA)
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Cast: Sapphire Boyce, Christian Byers, Vince Colosimo, Jacqueline McKenzie

“Opal Dream” is yet another Aussie gem (get it?) that I’ve been able to dig up (oh, I’m so witty).

Set in a tiny town where the only hope people have is to “find color”, that is to unearth big and beautiful opals in the quest to strike it rich, the film revolves around the Williamson family.

The father (Colosimo) is a prospector, the mom (McKenzie) works in a local shop, the son (Byers) idolizes his father and the dream of finding color and the daughter (Boyce) has two imaginary friends who dominate the family dynamic.

Boyce’s “friends” are so important and real to her that when she believes they have become lost, she falls deeply ill. Her brother organizes the town to make his sister feel that everyone loves her imaginary friends and the parents can do little but hope their little girl will recover.

That may sound odd and uninteresting but “Opal Dream” finds a way to be so heartwarming and endearing that I think this is one of the better family films to come out in the last few years.

The performances by the adults are good but it’s the two children who really shine. Boyce is sweet and it breaks your heart to see her so sickly.

However, Byers’ performance is even more powerful and I expect great things from him in the future. He is basically the driving engine of the film and without his credibility and strength, “Opal Dream” might have fallen flat on its face.

I doubt it comes as much of a surprise to my loyal readers that I’ve fallen in love with another film from Down Under but it might be a bit of shock to find that after all this praise, I’m going to give “Opal Dream” a 3 out of 5.

While the kids’ performances are very engaging, overall I thought the film lacked some momentum and you could really tell that this was adapted from a short story. There just weren’t enough elements to constitute a feature length film.

Still, if you’re looking for something sweet and safe for the whole family (and you don’t fear a conversation about death with your kids), go ahead and check out “Opal Dream”. It’s full of heart and I’d like to think this is just the beginning for young Christian Byers.