top of page


1984 / 97 min / 35mm / Drama

Director:  Paul Cox

Producers:  Jane Ballantyne, Paul Cox

Associate Producer:  Tony Llewellyn-Jones

Script:  Paul Cox, Bob Ellis

Cinematographer:  Yuri Sokol

Sound Recordist:  Ken Hammond

Production Designer:  Asher Bilu

Composer: Ann Boyd, Renee Geyer

Editor:  Tim Lewis

Cast:  John Hargreaves, Wendy Hughes, Lucy Angwin, David Cameron


1984:  AFI Award’s - Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role - John Hargreaves; Australian Writers’ Guild  - Best Original Screenplay;  Rio de Janeiro Film Festival - Best Director;  Houston Film Festival - Best Film & Best Director

1986:  Grand Prix, Ghent International Film Festival; Flanders International Film Festival - Golden Spur

MY FIRST WIFE pleads for more patience, more understanding, more tolerance and more care for our ‘loved ones’, and if the time for parting arrives, to be more careful with the way we say goodbye.


The film is about the dramatic collapse of the marriage between John (John Hargreaves) and Helen (Wendy Hughes).  It is also a film about our children and the future we offer them.  Helen has decided to leave, and it is John who lacks the inner resources to cope with the impending tragedy.  Slowly John is sucked into a tunnel of despair – fighting his conservative nature and the romantic memories of his married life.  “We must love one another or die” W.H. Auden said in 1939.  This sentiment is very much at the heart of the story.

Chicago Reader - Dave Hehr - 2000

“Paul Cox (Man of Flowers) brings some powerful variations to the marital-breakup movie: a style that alternates between naturalistic drama and avant-garde impressionism to convey an enveloping sense of rage and fear ...”


Ozus World Movie Review - Denis Schwartz - 2005

“It's painful, poignant, provocative, very adult-like, realistic, and heartfelt.”


bottom of page