Filled with the misty gray light and ghostly blue-green grass which have become a signature of many New Zealand films, VIGIL is the quietly powerful coming-of-age story of a young girl isolated by loss and environment. Out gathering stranded sheep, Toss' (Fiona Kay) father falls to his death; at the same moment, she hears the gunshots of an approaching poacher. In his muddy gum boots, the poacher, Ethan (Frank Whitten), carries her father's battered body back to the house. Tuba-playing, pyjama-clad grandfather Birdie (Bill Kerr) encourages the stranger to stay, much to the initial disdain of both mother, Elizabeth (Penelope Stewart) and daughter. Fleeing the sexual tension, Toss retreats to her playhouse in her hooded, wooly, hawk-like hat. It is only in the mirrors of her playhouse, and at last in the ghostly lights which Ethan shows her in his own hiding place, that the boyish Toss is able to explore her grief and the confusing first stirrings of womanhood.