Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” That is the theme of this gentle story about a little girl whose two invisible friends are more real to her than the desolate landscape and desperate hopes of her opal-mining community in Australia.
Kellyanne Williamson (Sapphire Boyce) lives with her brother and her parents in the South Australian opal mining community of Coober Pedy. Her family’s views of her two imaginary friends ranges from sympathetic (her mother) to impatience (her brother) and increasing concern (her father), but mostly they play along. But when the friends are lost and Kellyanne is devastated, her father and brother — and ultimately the whole community — learn how real imaginary friends can be.
The story is presented in a low-key, naturalistic manner that has us feel we are evesdropping on a real family. The story is a bit contrived, but the sweetness is genuine. In a world of slam-bang, loud and clanging, overdone and over-the-top entertainment for children and families, it is a pleasure to watch a quiet story about imagination and the power of belief.
Parents should know that this movie has some tense scenes, some peril, and a sick child. The death and burial of the imaginary friends may be upsetting for younger or more sensitive children.
Families who see this film should talk about their own imaginary friends. If they never had them, what kind would they like to have? What made some people change their minds about Kellyanne’s friends?
Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Hand in Hand, a lovely film about a Jewish boy and a Catholic girl who find a way to be friends in a world that emphasizes their differences. As in Opal Dreams, the depiction of an imaginary friend is delicately handled.