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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Muriel's Wedding
Directed by P.J. Hogan
Miramax Home Entertainment 03/95 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - sex-related dialogue, some sexuality

Muriel's Wedding is set in Porpoise Spit, Australia. Muriel is a chubby misfit who lives with her dysfunctional family. No one seems to have any respect for Muriel. Her father, a corrupt politician, calls her useless and the pretty girls she hangs around with constantly put her down. One of them even says, "You've got to find friends on your own level."

No wonder Muriel gets hooked on the music of ABBA and the dream of one day escaping into a whole new life through marriage. She certainly doesn't want to end up like her depressed mother who is ignored and deceived by everyone around her. Stuck in a dungeon of disappointment, Muriel secretly appropriates some money from her father and heads off to Bali for a vacation. There she meets Rhoda, a free-spirited woman who is also an outsider. Together they move to Sydney where Muriel reinvents herself far from the disapproving eyes of family and peers. Through a weird series of circumstances, she even gets a shot at fulfilling her wildest wedding fantasies.

This exuberant Australian film, written and directed by P. J. Hogan, has the same spunk and comic vitality as last year's Aussie hit Strictly Ballroom. Toni Collette infuses Muriel with an optimism that is impervious to the many assaults on her appearance and character. The music of ABBA is sacramental in that it constantly restores her enthusiasm for life. Rachel Griffiths is appealing as Rhoda, a true friend who in the second half of the film must face her own battle. Muriel's Wedding is a soul stirring story of personal transformation. Don't miss it!

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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