Friday, 8 February 2013

Muriel's Wedding (1994)

"You're terrible Muriel"

A film that actually improves on rewatches, not that there was anything wrong with it on a first watch, Muriel's Wedding was that other wedding based hit movie of 1994 (Four Weddings and a Funeral being the other of course) all the way from Australia, which was then enjoying a new phase in film making; known as Glitter Film or post Australian New Wave.

Toni Collette owns this movie. A wonderfully talented actress with a flair for both comedy and drama which comes in handy as this is a film that can take you from one extreme to another. That she was just 22 at the time shows what a star she is. A naturally attractive girl, Collette had to put on 42 pounds in just 7 weeks to play the dowdy gawky Muriel; it takes a real talent to play what is generally perceived as unattractive here and she does so perfectly, utterly inhabiting the role and challenging perceptions to make it far more than just a stereotype. She's ably supported by a great Australian cast including the excellent Rachel Griffiths as Rhonda whose career had a similar Hollywood bound trajectory as Collette's after this, and the veteran actor Bill Hunter as Muriel's dad.

Muriel's Wedding is perhaps unflatteringly referred to as a chick flick, I can't think why and I can't agree with the statement. Just because a film focuses on a female central character doesn't mean it can only be enjoyed by, or say anything to, that specific gender. Muriel's Wedding is a film about life, and we can all enjoy and be spoken to about that little phenomenon. 

If I had any criticisms about the film it is that occasionally writer/director PJ Hogan ensures it gallops along too quickly to reach its key plot points, leaving the viewer a little short changed for individual depth or experience. For instance it would have been nice for the film to have the chance to breathe and explore Muriel's friendship with Rhonda beyond the Abba performance when they leave their hometown of Porpoise Spit. But this is essentially a minor quibble in what is a very funny and touching movie with a corker of a soundtrack.

Oh and it also has one of the funniest (almost) sex scenes between Toni Collette and Matt Day, and a bean bag chair!

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