Institute History


Angela’s life is changed by two strange women who arrive in the tourist town of Rotorua after a shocking car accident. Angela lives with her father, Colin Mackie, a once-successful novelist who’s become a virtual recluse since the suicide of his wife. The 16 year old becomes infatuated by the charismatic American, Lane, who embodies all the power and daring her own life lacks. Together they explore the underbelly of small town nightlife. The change in Angela happens overnight as she tries to mimic Lane’s dress and antisocial behaviour.

A frightening encounter with two drunken men in a motel room reveals a cruel streak in Lane but only binds Angela closer. Angela accompanies Lane on her one and only visit to the hospital to see Christina, the real victim of her reckless driving. Christina is an Australian academic who was on her way to interview Angela’s father when the accident happened. Now she’s lying in a coma, her head swelled up like a basketball.

Soon after, Lane makes a move on Colin. So begins an unlikely affair of passionate intensity that turns their domestic routine upside down. Feeling excluded, Angela seeks refuge in the hospital and quickly transfers her affections to the unconscious woman. She now rejects what she sees as Lane’s self-seeking hedonism, immersing herself in the ‘spiritual’ world of the Intensive Care ward. Her faith will restore Christina to life.

Lane’s beginning to pull away from Colin’s emotional demands. Colin intervenes in a bitter fight between Angela and Lane, who walks out in a fury. It’s the final straw that turns Angela’s resentment into hatred. She pours her anger into Christina who’s just starting to regain consciousness reminding her over and over who’s responsible for her injuries.

Two weeks go by and Colin’s still a mess. He tells Angela that Lane’s left town for good and it’s all over between them. Angela remains unconvinced, but is determined to keep her away by any means. She senses that Christina’s her strongest weapon; having known for some time that the injured woman is Lane’s Achilles heel.

When the long-awaited day comes and Christina awakens she’s more of a handful than Angela bargained for. She’s like a monstrous child; partially blind, disabled, and emotionally volatile. Angela continues to be both mother and teacher to her friend in need. Christina’s a fast learner. Soon her paranoid delusions about Lane surpass even Angela’s most poisonous stories.

Angela catches a glimpse of Lane when she comes back to the hospital. It’s not long before she sails back into their lives and Colin’s resistance crumbles. When he suggests a weekend in the country to reconcile their differences, Angela secretly arranges for Christina to come too. She imagines a cathartic confrontation that will bring Lane to her knees.

By the time Christina makes her dramatic appearance at the lake, the situation’s much less clear. Angela, forced to see Lane in a new light, glimpses a terrifying insecurity just under the surface. Christina immediately latches onto Colin and becomes the centre of attention for all three of them. Despite her handicaps, she’s stubborn and cunning, adept at turning situations to her advantage. Above all, she’s beyond Angela’s control—a free agent—but for the seed of hate and fear she carefully planted. . . .a hatred of Lane that knows no reason.


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