The suffocating repressiveness of the Victorian era is superbly realized by director Bruce Beresford in The Getting of Wisdom. Thirteen-year-old Laura (Susannah Fowle), an incorrigible free spirit from the Australian outback, is enrolled in a prestigious girl's boarding school. The indoctrination process is a rough one, and Laura very nearly loses her individuality and sense of self-worth. When she does mature, however, it is on her terms, and not the school's. Intriguingly, The Getting of Wisdom is based on the reminiscences of a 19th-century female writer who used the pen name of Henry Handel Richardson. Despite its somber dramatic overtones, the film contains moments of uninhibited humor, a trademark of director Beresford.