At the centre of this story of family life is the contrast between the deadpan, phobic Kay and the manic, excessive Dawn (Sweetie). The film explores aspects of Australian life and the Australian psyche, and probes into the viewer's consciousness by showing the narrow boundary between eccentricity, madness, and normality.
Geraldine Bloustein examines several of Jane Campion's early films, focusing on the director's exploration of the role of daydreams and fantasies in people's lives, and how power and control in social and personal relationships can help to squash those daydreams. Bloustien proposes that Campion's strikingly original visual style allows these films to move away from traditional narrative techniques, and unfold through separate self-contained segments. She also notes that music is a frequently recurring motif in many of her films, suggesting that it is a highly significant cultural vehicle for the fantasies behind everyday life.