Nine-year-old KellyAnne (Sapphire Boyce) insists that her imaginary friends Pobby and Dingan are real, despite the frustration of her mother (Jacqueline McKenzie) and opal miner father (Vince Colosimo). When the friends go "missing," KellyAnne's older brother Ashmol (Christian Byers) gives in and helps her look for them.

Big question: Is this Australian family flick's magic all in its head?

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Skip it: Well-meaning but aggravating, "Opal Dream" should be far sadder, as KellyAnne has a vivid imagination but has also lost grip on reality. The film provides no lightness to her distressing fixation on Pobby and Dingan nor insight into KellyAnne's loneliness, and there's no reason to think she's anything but a disturbed child who needs help.

Catch it: If you've ever had imaginary friends of your own. Did you, like KellyAnne, also give one of them a wooden leg?

Bottom line: It's nice to see Ashmol be such a good brother, but this is fodder for a psychological drama that prefers to be a dull fantasy without any stylistic flourishes. Though opals and imaginary people are both things you search for no matter how small the chance of finding them, a movie about that shouldn't act as if parents appeasing their messed-up child is as moving as people actually giving in to the power of belief.

Bonus: Whether he's looking for real or imaginary children, a man simply should never try to find them by offering a lollipop in his pocket. That just doesn't sound right.

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.

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'Opal Dream'

Directed by Peter Cattaneo; screenplay by Cattaneo, Ben Rice and Phil Traill; photographed by Robert Humphreys; edited by Jim Clark and Nicolas Gaster; production design by Elizabeth Mary Moore; music by Dario Marianelli; produced by Lizie Gower, Nick Morris and Emile Sherman. A Strand Releasing release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:26. MPAA rating: PG (for mild thematic elements, language and some violence).

Kellyanne - Sapphire Boyce

Ashmol - Christian Byers

Rex - Vince Colosimo

Annie - Jacqueline McKenzie