A Visual Text Study of Looking for Alibrandi, directed by Kate Woods
- 1 Year 11 Students at Albany Senior High Study Looking for Alibrandi
- 2 Character and characterisation
- 3 Structure
- 4 Important Events
- 5 Close Reading
- 6 Symbolism
- 7 Soundtrack
- 8 Important ideas
Year 11 Students at Albany Senior High Study Looking for Alibrandi
- Josephine Alibrandi
- Christina Alibrandi
- Michael Andretti
- Katia (Nonna) Alibrandi
- Jacob Coote
- John Barton
- Sera Conti
- Anna Selicic
- Carly Bishop
- Anton Valavic
- Mr Barton
- Ron Bishop
- Mr Coote
- Angelo Pezzini
- Paul Presilio
- Marcus Sandford
- Sister Louise
Opening credits: burning heart motif, behind which, an aeroplane flies over blue skies.Tomato Day (beginning). The whole extended family help make pasta sauce. Josie is introduced an reveals that she hates it. She tries to change the music and leaves as soon as her friends arrive. The heads to Bondi beach with Anna and Sera. News of her and her friends sunbathing reaches home before she does. At night she is studying and voices over a sequence introducing her mother. She climbs into bed with her and learns Michael's back. Introduction of St. Martha's. Carly Bishop and lots of wealthy friends are introduced. Carly's racism is revealed early. Class: While trying to cheat on a test, Josie is caught out, but she tells Sister Louise she was looking at Carly's Skamp magazine, criticising it for being anti-Christian. Sister Louise calls her into her office and gives her a talking to about HSC, being Vice-Captain and her new job. St. Anthony's comes to visit in order to discuss the year's social calendar. John Barton is introduced. Josie fantasises about being his wife. On her way to Nonna's, Josie dawdles, but is tracked by the spy ring. At Nonna's she is hot and bothered and meets her father for the first time. She runs away and her mother guesses what's happened. Josie and Anna get a life to have a say day with Angelo. Jacob Coote speaks after Josie, and while she says she isn't she seems to be impressed by him. They talk afterwards, looking at Carly and John Barton having their photos taken. A celebration lunch. Spotting a quiet moment, Christina and Michael talk about Josie, but it quickly develops into an argument which Josie, then Nonna walk in on. Josie stays with Nonna. She tries to listen to her Walkman, but Nonna makes her get the photos. She talks about coming out on the boat. Rugby game: Josie sees John Barton and they talk. He is concerned that his father controls everything about his life. They decide they are both suffering under the weight of tradition. The dance: Josie prays John will ask her to dace, but Jacob does instead. They dance for seven and a half songs, then while angling for a lift with John, Jacob offers to drop her home. They ride on his motorbike, during which time, Josie goes from being petrified to enjoying it. They arrive at Josie's house, and after a couple of botched attempts, they decide to go out. Josie meets John at the University to go over their course for the following year. Josie and Jacob go on a date to the movies. It ends horribly after being unable to decide on a film to watch. Michael drives along while Josie is storming home after the date. She accuses him of trying to buy them off, takes her anger out on him and leaves him there. Josie 'swaps souls' with John Barton. She puts his in a box under the bed. While working at Oporto, Josie and Anna are visited by Jacob and Anton. Returning from a holiday break, Josie learns that John Barton is dead. The funeral: Robert is a pallbearer. At home, Josie remembers about John's soul, opens it and reads it. He talks about the pressure on him to be what he isn't. Josie tears up the piece of paper and sets him free. Josie sees Jacob on the bus. He gives her a hug. During confession, Josie breaks down. As she is leaving the chapel, Carly makes another racist comment. Josie breaks her nose with a history book. In Sister Louise's office, Ron Bishop wants Josie to pay for the damage. Swallowing her pride, Josie calls her father, who arrives and sorts the situation out. Christina goes on a date with Paul Presilio, much to the annoyance of her mother and daughter. Nonna goes through the photos again and talks about Marcus Sandford. While she's walking with Jacob, Michael stops Josie and offers her a job. They give Jacob a life home and have a coffee. Nonna sees them and takes Josie away. At her mother's work, Josie talks to her about the possibility of dating. They talk about when she and Michael were seventeen. Josie goes to stay over at Michaels. She's impressed with his lifestyle, but finds a photo of his girlfriend back in Adelaide. End of school. They have a big break up fight with water and flour. Studying, Sera tells Josie that her relationship with Jacob is doomed because they come from different stock. Josie goes to Jacob's and meets his dad. In Jacob's room, things progress towards having sex. Josie decides it isn't the right time. They argue, Josie leaves, and Jacob catches her on the steps, asking why they are such a disaster. Josie sits her HSC, studying hard. She thinks she sees John Barton at the train station. Michael tries to teach Josie to drive, but reveals that he's heading back to Adelaide. Josie gets upset, abuses him and storms off. At Bondi beach, Josie talks with her friends. She realises that Francesco couldn't have been her natural grandfather and races off to confront Nonna about it. Nonna concedes the truth, but wants to keep it from Christina, who arrives just in time. Tomato Day (end). Michael is there, and when Jacob arrives, Josie brings him in and he is given a job. Anna and Sera are also brought in. Josie puts on the music her family likes and asks Nonna for a dance.
The setting of a film is always important. Take particular note of where events occur, because it is often not by accident.
- St. Martha's: Josie's school is introduced in quite a dismissive way. Josie says that she's surrounded by girls who are treated like princesses by their fathers. She does not like the hypocrisy or shallowness of her school. 'At St. Martha's it's all about money, prestige and what your father does for a living.' The uniform makes everyone look the same, which removes Josie's individuality, but also reminds the audience that the differences people here operate on are just as seen as unseen, like what you father does for a living.
- Home: Josie's house is a small, modest flat, some distance from the school. This distance represents the social distance between Josie and the rest of the students at St. Martha's. There are a number of shots that show Josie looking out the small windows of their flat (introducing her mother, and after meeting her father) which remind the viewer that Josie feels cramped here, and that she wants to move both up in the world and to a better house.
- Michael's Apartment: The apartment represents the things that Josie could gain from having a career like Michael's. She wants to have enough money to live like this and even directly connects Michael's law practice with this apartment. Having the harbour bridge so prominently placed in many of the shots that take place here reminds the audience of travelling and Josie's desire to cross over into this kind of world.
Character and characterisation
Several of the events that occur during the film help us to see the way that Josie develops and changes over the course of the film:
- Tomato Day (beginning): Josie is a reluctant participant in the family and cultural ritual. She doesn't see herself as belonging there. She talks about her future, and about not really knowing where she fits in to society.
- Meeting her father: At the beginning of the film, Josie says that fathers seem pretty useless anyway, and that she is happy do do without hers. As Michael's influence grows, Josie learns that half of her family history has been missing, and that Michael and her can have a fruitful relationship, beneficial to both of them.
- Going out with Jacob: He teaches her that first impressions aren't always right about people, and that a relationship across different ethnic backgrounds can work. She also learns it's important to preserve your individuality in a relationship.
- Studying for her future: Josie realises that these exams are an important part of the journey towards the life she wants. She learns that it is important to keep everything in balance, including friendships, relationships, work and school.
- Resolving the 'curse': Confronting her Nonna over Marcus Sandford helps to bring Josie's relationship with her to a new level. Josie is more understanding of Nonna, and Nonna is more accepting of her grandchild born out of wedlock.
- Tomato Day (end): How much Josie has grown and learnt over the course of the film is revealed in the final scene. She embraces her family and their traditions, welcomes her friends and boyfriend into the environment and is positive about not knowing exactly what will happen in the future.
As Josie as the central character in the film, most of the relationships are centred around her. Each one is important and Josie learns a little from each one to become the person she is at the end of the film.
- Nonna and Mamma: Undoubtedly Josie's closest relationship is with these two. They support and frustrate each other enormously, but by the end of the film, Josie is more appreciative of what each of them does for her.
- Jacob: He teaches her that first impressions aren't always right about people, and that a relationship across different ethnic backgrounds can work. She also learns it's important to preserve your individuality in a relationship.
- Her father: Josie doesn't realise how much she's missed having a father until he shows up. While she's always been happy growing up with her mother, she begins to realise the support and advice of her father might come in handy.
- Sera and Anna: Josie's best friends are always there to support her, take her places and discuss ideas with. Sera comes from a similar Italian family so Josie doesn't feel her family is completely different to everyone she knows, while Anna makes work at Oporto a little more fun.
- John Barton: At first John represents where Josie wants to be. After getting to know him, and especially after his suicide, John shows Josie that you can feel alone and misunderstood regardless of your background.
- Carly Bishop: Carly represents all that's bad in the world of the wealthy. She is image obsessed, shallow and vindictive. Josie knows that if she enters John's privileged world, she won't be like Carly.
Compare the beginning and ending of the film
The film covers a period of twelve months, beginning and ending with the family Tomato Day. There are several key difference between these two scenes that reveal how much Josie has learnt and grown over the course of the film. What do each of these tell us about Josie?
- Josie tries to put some modern music on.
- She runs away to the beach with Sera and Anna as soon as they arrive.
- She talks about the curse afflicting the Alibrandi women.
- Footage is coloured to make it look old and out of date.
- 'This might be where I come from, but do I really belong here?'
- Josie puts Tintorella di Luna on the record player instead of taking it off.
- She asks Nonna for a dance.
- She invites Jacob, Sera and Anna in to help.
- She doesn't try to escape to the beach.
- Her voiceover talks about the good things going for the family, not the bad. 'I know now that what's important who I feel I am. I'm Christina and Michael's daughter and I'm Katia's granddaughter. And we're not cursed, we're blessed.'
Josie talks to us directly through voicing over the images that are shown. She uses this technique to explain what's going on, to tell us how she feels about things, to introduce background information, but also to reproduce the kind of first person narrative the novel has.
- Tomato Day (beginning): Josie's doubts about her family, her culture and her future emerge through this voiceover. 'This might be where I come from, but do I really belong here?' She also introduces us to key members of her family: Mamma, Nonna, cousin Robert etc.
- Background Information: Josie tells us a lot of important background information in this voiceover. She reveals that Francesco kicked Christina out when she was seventeen; that Nonna believes Josie brought the curse on the family, and that only Josie and Christina know that Michael Andretti is Josie's father.
St. Martha's: Josie uses this voiceover to convey a number of things to us: contrasts between Anna and Sera, and also how she feels about being surrounded by people like Carly Bishop: 'Because I'm surrounded by girls whose fathers treat them like princesses.'
- Tomato Day (end): A lot of what Josie's learnt about herself over the previous year is conveyed through this final voiceover. She admits to not knowing everything, but she does know and appreciate more where she belongs. 'I know now that what's important is who I feel I am.'
One way to get the thoughts in Josie's head from the book onto the movie screen was to invent these 'fantasy sequences'. They are also a way of showing how creative, imaginative and romantic Josie is.
- Carly's arrival: Carly is such a glamorous figure in her school that Josie believes there is some truth in this fantasy. The way that all of her friends fawn over her seem to Josie to be similar to this kind of movie star treatment.
- Marrying John Barton: So hung up is Josie on the idea that she is going to marry into the world of John Barton, that she begins to dream about it. She becomes shadow attorney general (like the most powerful lawyer in the country) and all of the people she knows gather around her.
- St. Barbara: Josie's fear that this year is going to be disastrous is acted out in the fantasy that she is St. Barbara who was beheaded by her father. Coming shortly after meeting her father for the first time, clearly Josie is worried about how things will develop.
- Being rescued by Michael: After Michael talks their way out of being sued by Ron Bishop, the stained glass window in the stairwell at St. Martha's changes to reveal Michael as an angel, rescuing Josie. Light builds behind it, making it almost a biblical miracle.
After John Barton's death, the fantasy sequences get fewer and farther between. There are no more after Josie begins studying for her HSC. This represents something of a loss of innocence, where Josie is no longer as dreamy or as optimistic as she was at the beginning of the film.
- Josie meeting her father for the first time: This has a profound impact on Josie's life. She goes through a range of emotions, but ends up seeing him as a person who has a lot to offer her, and who completes a part of her she never knew anything about. He helps her with her studies and gives her practice working in a law firm.
- John Barton's death: This helps Josie to see a number of things: life in his world can be just as difficult as in hers; you can feel as if you don't belong, regardless of the world you come from, and also that she doesn't need to make the same mistake John did.
- Confronting Nonna: This helps Josie to see the motives behind her grandmother's actions. She was trying to protect Christina, rather than punish her, and was hurt when she fell pregnant. By bringing everything out in the open, their feeling can begin to be resolved and they can move forward as three generations of strong, loving Alibrandi women.
Tomato Day (beginning)
The very first image of the film is an aeroplane flying somewhere. Josie desperately want to be somewhere else and the plane is one symbol of this. Tintorella di Luna (and old Italian twist song) plays in the background. This sequence is one continuous shot until Josie arrives. When she appears on camera, the colour returns to normal and editing begins. It was shot on a handheld camera and coloured to make it look like an old home movie. This gets us thinking about a number of things: tradition (old ways vs. new); family (home movies) and culture (bringing things from an old country to a new one).
- . What reasons does Josie give for not wanting to be part of Tomato Day?
- . Which important characters are introduced in this sequence?
- . How does Josie show she doesn't want to be part of this world?
- . What ideas does Josie express about her future?
Introduction to St. Martha's
Josie walks up to her school while the wealthier students are dropped off in expensive cars. She tells us about her and her friends' circumstances, and says that fathers seem pretty useless anyway so why would she want one? Carly Bishop is introduced and Josie runs through a fantasy scene where she is a famous model who is adored by the students at St. Martha's. The colours that dominate this sequence are cold whites and blues making the school uninviting, very different to the warm reds and yellows of Josie's backyard.
- . What contrasts are there between people like Carly Bishop and people like Josie Alibrandi in this scene?
- . How has dialogue been used to introduce Carly's character?
Meeting Michael for the first time
Nonna's on the phone to one of her spy ring when Josie arrives. She's hot and irritable. When she tries to turn the air conditioning on, she's ushered out of the room because it's only for when guests are around. Josie and Nonna argue and Nonna tells her to go home. Josie's just about to do this, when Michael's standing at the door. She's caught off guard and runs away, embarrassing Nonna. The soft focus and halo of light around Michael's face when the door is opened makes him seem angelic or like a star in a romantic film. One ironic line of dialogue is when Nonna says 'I was taught to speak English before you mother was born.'
- . Why do you think Nonna like to speak Sicilian when Josie's around?
- . Why does Michael say 'Christina's daughter?' slowly?
Jacob drops Josie off
Having just had an adrenaline-filled ride home, Jacob walks Josie up to her house. He tells her about her mother and the process he went through grieving for her. He thought she was wealthy because she goes to 'that snob school'. They pause and Jacob tries to kiss Josie, who initially pulls away, realises she's made a mistake and leans forward, by which time Jacob's pulled away. Jacob's embarrassed: 'Oh look, you're not really my type.'
- . Why does Jacob seem interested in whether Josie would be at a school like Cook High if she wasn't on her scholarship?
- . What contrasts are there between Josie and Jacob?
Setting John's soul free
Lying in bed after the funeral, Josie remembers she has John's soul under her bed. She gets it out and reads it. John wants to be all of the things people want him to be, but knows he can't be them all. All he wants is freedom. The camera (mounted on a crane) pulls back to allow John the freedom he desires. Tearing up the letter also tells the audience that she won't follow John towards suicide when things are difficult. She won't hold on to the pain and the grief.
- . What link is there between what John wants and Josie tearing up the letter?
- . Why does John list the different things people want him to be?
Breaking Carly's nose
After breaking Carly's nose with her History book, Josie tries to handle it on her own, but after Carly criticises her for having no father, she brags about him being a solicitor. She calls him and has to remind him where she goes to school. Michael arrives and tries to get Josie to tell him what name Carly called her, but she won't say. All she says is that nobody ever told John's friends they couldn't play at his house, bringing one of the underlying issues up. Michael understands and talks their way out of trouble.
- . What was the previous encounter between Josie and Michael?
- . Why is there a pregnant pause after Michael says the words 'My daughter...'?
- . Why does Michael mention he has a bad temper?
Josie's concerned about what Sera said about her and Jacob's relationship being doomed because they're from different backgrounds. Jacob can see this instantly and tries to calm her down. She meets his Dad and it is revealed that they have a close relationship. The kiss in Jacob's room and head towards having sex, but Josie decides she's not ready. Jacob gets anxious but Josie knows that just because Jacob and she have had different experiences with love and sex, they don't have to move at his pace.
- . What might Jacob say in reply to Josie's comment that he lives without culture?
- . What reasons does Jacob give for them being suited?
- . Why do you think things don't always run smoothly?
Josie confronts Nonna about her hypocrisy. Nonna explains what is was like for her in a marriage where her husband was abusive. In her heart, she imagined she was married to Marcus Sandford back in Queensland. She wanted to protect Christina from repeating the same fate and was upset when she found out that Christina had been seeing boys behind her back, and was pregnant.
- . What things stop as a result of this scene?
- . What does she learn about her Nonna as a result of this conversation?
- . Josie's first reaction is to run off and tell her mother. Why would that have been the wrong thing to do? (Why was it better for them all to sit down and share it?)
Tomato Day (end)
Tomato day again. A whole year has passed. This time Josie is much more secure in who she is, and accepts that her family is an important part of who she is. She doesn't try to run away as soon as she can, on the contrary, she brings first Jacob, then Sera and Anna in to help. The final clue that she is happy here is asking Nonna for a dance. It symbolises the way they have resolved their differences. 'I know now that what's important who I feel I am. I'm Christina and Michael's daughter and I'm Katia's granddaughter. And we're not cursed, we're blessed.'
- . What has Josie achieved in the previous twelve months?
One of the most important symbols in the film is the idea of travelling. Josie's culture has been transported to Australia, and she is trying to transport herself to a different style of life. These are some of the more important examples of this symbol, or motif.
- The very first shot of the film is of an aeroplane flying over the house. Planes often symbolise people wanting to go places. The final sequence of the film also has a shot of an aeroplane, but this time, Josie simply looks up, happy exactly where she is.
- Josie's first means of escape from her family at the beginning of the film is by travelling. She jumps in Sera's car and heads for the beach to escape 'National Wog Day'.
- John's expensive car is another reminder that they come from separate backgrounds. Carly is offered the lift, suggesting that she is more suitable for John because of her family. The cruel blow is that Josie initially thinks she is being offered a lift.
- Josie's relationship with Jacob is symbolised by the motorbike. It is fast, unstable, dangerous but can also be a lot of fun. Driving over the bridge can also be seen to symbolise moving into adulthood because she considers having sex with him.
- Josie must take public transport to her school. She has to travel quite a distance because she can't afford to live in the wealthy area around the school. She also hopes that the scholarship will help her to travel to a 'better' life: a lawyer with lots of money.
- The rollercoaster outside Michael's apartment could be seen as a symbol of Josie's life as a whole, but it particularly suits her relationship with her father. It go through its ups and downs and certainly throws Josie around a bit.
The image of the volcano occurs a couple of times during the film, but it is quite an important symbol to remember when thinking of Josie. Lots of things are building up inside her and they often come out in shows of strong emotion. She often deals with problems by yelling, abusing someone or crying, all of which can be seen to be similar to a volcano welling up and overflowing.
- The first example of the volcano occurs when Jacob offers to give Josie a lift home. Behind them as they are getting onto the bike, a screen is playing footage of a volcano exploding. Josie's emotions are also welling up in this scene, with her frustration at not being asked to dance by John Barton being matched against her rising interest in Jacob.
- The second instance of the volcano symbol is on the glass wall of the Bar Stromboli where Josie has coffee with her father. Things are welling up inside her over her relationship with her father too, particularly given that Nonna doesn't like her seeing him. Throughout the film, Josie's emotions swing from not wanting anything to do with her father, to wanting he and her mother to get back together. Occasionally it gets too much for her and she erupts at him.
Hands are often things that we take for granted, but watching what they do in a film can be quite a useful way of exploring ideas and relationships.
- In both of the Tomato Day sequences, hands dominate the shots. Most of the people present are doing something with their hands, largely towards making the pasta sauce for the family. Because of this, they symbolise the way that people can do things for others. Other examples include preparing meals for other people (Nonna does this often) to show you care for them and you want them to be happy and well.
- When Josie leaves to go to Bondi with her friends, she washes her hands of tomato juice. This is symbolic of what she wants to do with her family and culture as a whole at the beginning of the film: she wants to wash her hands of them (be rid of them). She learns that it isn't as easy as that, and by the end of the film, she has learnt that she is better off embracing them, rather than being ashamed of them.
- When Nonna is angry at Josie's cheekiness, she raises her hand as if to discipline her, but drops it when her point is made. Hands can communicate peoples' emotions, and especially show when they are angry. Another time hands reveal emotions is when Josie uses her to break Carly's nose with a history book.
When studying film, the word soundtrack measn everything you can hear, not just the music used in the film. Having said that, the background music used in the film is quite significant.
The producers of the film wanted the music to be an important part of the film. The lyrics of most of the songs used in the film enhance the audience's understanding of what occurs during each scene. Here are a few examples.
- Tintarella di Luna (Performed by Gina Zoia) This is the song that Josie takes off in the first Tomato Day sequence, but put on in the second, asking Nonna for a dance.
- With or Without You (Performed by Hamish Cowan) '...and I'm waiting for you, with or without you. I can't live, with or without you...Nothing to win and nothing left to lose...'
- Supernova (By Magic Dirt) 'I have looked all over the place, but you have got my favourite face...you're a human supernova, solar superman. Your kiss is as wicked as an M-16 and you talk like a volcano and you're everything to me.' (A supernova is an exploding star)
- Miss You Love (by Silverchair) '...and I'm not sure, not sure, not too sure to know how it feels to handle every day...'
The importance of friends
- Josie's friends help her a lot in the film. They help her through difficult times and they help her to understand things.
- When Josie introduces us to her friends, she says that they 'kinda happened by default', but despite this, they are excellent friends who help each other out enormously. Coming from similar backgrounds as Josie, she feels as though she's not alone at St. Martha's.
- John's death helps Josie to see a number of things: life in his world can be just as difficult as in hers; you can feel as if you don't belong, regardless of the world you come from, and also that she doesn't need to make the same mistake John did.
- When John dies, Anna and Sera wait by the lockers so they can be around when Josie gets to school. They try to break it to her as gently as possible and tidy up Josie's dropped things after she runs out. They leave her to go too, understanding she needs space.
- Sera's comment that you need to be from the same background to make a relationship work might be based in the truth, but it's not as simple as that. Josie learns that it might be true, but it might not be as well. The reassurance she seeks from Jacob is quickly given.
The pressure to be perfect
Lots of the images that only appear on the screen for a second, or might appear in the background are very important in the story. All of the posters and magazine covers below were made by the Art Department working on the film and laced in important places.
- Eastwest: This sign is on the back of the bus as Josie enters St. Martha's. It has women admiring themselves on it, but also the phrase 'Eastwest'. Josie is trying to get from the poorer Western suburbs of Sydney to the richer Eastern suburbs.
- Skamp: The Skamp magazine appears twice before Josie is called out in front of class. This shows how much image and magazines like this are revered at St. Martha's. Notice one of the articles is called 'Claws to die for', which makes the girls seem like animals who are capable of killing each other.
- The Dance: All of the girls in the bathroom are touching up their makeup, or ensuring they look good before returning to the dance floor. Very catty dialogue occurs in this setting, perhaps because the girls are nervous about how they look, and are eager to put others down.
- Girltalk: This shot shows Carly on yet another magazine cover, this time wearing a T-shirt that says 'racism sucks'. The composition of the shot cuts the top half of Josie out of the frame, suggesting that she is not as important as the magazine cover.
- Why would you want to?: When Josie is with John for the last time, the posters behind them at the train station ask one huge question: 'Why would you want to?' questioning why John feels suicide is the only way out.
Knowing where you belong
At the beginning of the film, Josie thinks she doesn't belong anywhere. She's too Australian to be Sicilian, but too Sicilian to truly be an Australian. As the film progresses she gains a better understanding of who she is and where she fits in.
- At the beginning of the film, Josie says 'This might be where I come from, but do I really belong here?', sparking off the great journey of the film. Josie sees her family as living in the past and tries to distance herself from them: 'I'm going places.'
- Meeting her father is an important part of Josie's search for belonging. The story of how her parents fell in love and the circumstances surrounding her conception help her to understand that she is not cursed.
- Josie's relationship with Jacob helps her to understand other peoples' realities too. She sees Jacob as being 'without culture' in that he is Australian, and doesn't have the same ties to a culture like the Sicilians do. Despite this, Josie learns that life in Jacob's world can be difficult too. She learns that relationships won't necessarily help you feel you belong somewhere.
- By the end of the film, Josie's sense of belonging is much more secure. She recognises that while she may have a great future ahead of her, she is also has strong ties to her past. 'I know now that what's important who I feel I am. I'm Christina and Michael's daughter and I'm Katia's granddaughter. And we're not cursed, we're blessed.' She has 'found Alibrandi'.
- The film presents Josie with a number of challenges and obstacles to overcome, often leading towards her independence. She does them with varying degrees of success but learns from all of them.
- Work: Josie has to juggle her school and social life with her new job at Oporto.
- John Barton's death: This helps Josie to see a number of things: life in his world can be just as difficult as in hers; you can feel as if you don't belong, regardless of the world you come from, and also that she doesn't need to make the same mistake John did.
- Racism: Josie is able to ignore Carly's racist comments for most of the film, but when she's feeling fragile after John's death, she snaps and uses physical violence.
- Relationships: Being in a serious relationship is difficult for Josie, but she works hard at it. Jacob is serious and really wants it to work, but Josie is a little more philosophical, saying 'We don't always get what we want, but God I love your faith.'
- Studies: Josie studies and works hard for her HSC. She hopes to do law, and is already helping out in Michael's law practice.
- Learning to Drive: A driver's licence is an important symbol of independence for Josie. She is studying for it when the film ends.