'1988. Thirty-five years after Fred Schepisi's film The Devil's Playground, Tom Allen, now a psychiatrist, becomes a secular confessor to the Catholic clergy, and is soon embroiled in political and theological intrigue.' (Source: Screen Australia)
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Set in a Catholic seminary outside Melbourne in 1953, an era in which aspiring priests would begin training in their early teens for their eventual vocation, The Devil's Playground is a study not only of life in a religious school but also of its effects on the students' lives, morals, and mental states. The protagonist, thirteen-year-old Tom Allen, is constantly getting in trouble for his behaviour, which includes wetting his bed, showering in the nude, and always being late. Although he spends many hours in the chapel praying for guidance, his impure thoughts terrify him. The priests and brothers who teach him also struggle with their own desires, while at the same time arguing for greater discipline. Indeed, most of the order - postulates and priests alike - have doubts about their vocation. Through the loneliness, fear, and shame, Tom begins to ponder his future.