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Tim, in his early 20s, is quiet, dependable, and held close by his mother, Jean, who works long hours at a Sydney canteen and then does stand-up at night, talking constantly about what might have been (if she'd stayed in England, if she'd had no children, if her younger son Mark weren't mildly disabled). She gets enough club work to keep hope alive. They've bought a moving van, and Tim meets Jill, falling for her but finding the challenges of sex, his mother's prying, and his brother's needs more than he can handle. The family - as well as Tim and Jill's relationship - is on the edge of crisis, accident, or, in Jane's case, self-destruction. Are family dynamics set in stone? Written by
"Clubland" is a wonderful laugh-out-loud "dramedic" tearfest sporting an amazing tour de force performance by Brenda Blethyn who received a standing ovation at Sundance '07 for her remarkable portrayal of the aging mother desperately clinging to her handsome virginal son as he strives to build a romantic relationship of his own away from her controlling maternal influence. To reveal much more would be a disservice to this charming little film, but suffice to say that Blethyn turns in a performance that is transformative. She hits every note and takes the audience through every emotion in the human experience as we watch her arc from a cute upbeat "fun-mother" at the beginning to a mean, controlling, jealous, self-pitying witch - yet all the while, we love her dearly. This film continues the emerging tradition of strong Australian performances with solid acting from the entire cast. The "coming of age" element is likewise sweet and adeptly handled by the two gorgeous young stars. Brendan Clearkin gives a passionate and artfully understated performance as the alienated and powerless father who still chases his dreams of musical stardom. Finally, Richard Wilson issues yet another barn-busting standout supporting role, this time as the retarded brother who alone in the family has the intelligence to recognize the white elephant in the family room. Wilson is the comedic relief, the bittersweet soul, the character foil and the dramatic precipitant of the entire story; and he carries it off masterfully. Wilson is certainly destined to be a major star, and I cannot wait for him to appear in a leading role. Every character has a dream, and watching them strive towards it as reality comes crashing against them makes for one hundred ten minutes of warm and deeply moving entertainment.
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