A young social outcast in Australia steals money from her parents to finance a vacation where she hopes to find happiness, and perhaps love.A young social outcast in Australia steals money from her parents to finance a vacation where she hopes to find happiness, and perhaps love.A young social outcast in Australia steals money from her parents to finance a vacation where she hopes to find happiness, and perhaps love.
Either way, the marketing for this great little movie deserves an award for Most Misleading. In misrepresenting "Muriel," they reduced it to a fun "chick flick" in the minds of people who hadn't yet seen it. It's so much better than that.
A few years back, my then-girlfriend begged for this on one of our trips to Blockbuster, so I gave in, resigned to a night of gritting my teeth through a silly, formula-written, semi-feminist movie about a couple girls who have fun while getting even with their boyfriends or finally landing the big job or whatever the ending was gonna be.
Well, I was FLOORED by what "Muriel's Wedding" was, as well as what it wasn't.
The film is profoundly psychological and satirical. The person who sees Muriel, powerfully played by Toni Collette, and cannot empathize with her is a heartless, brainless schmuck indeed. Collette's performance and writer/director PJ Hogan's screenplay take Muriel through pretty much the whole range of emotion. Much of this emotion is negative, and it's really painful (but beautiful) to watch at several points. To watch Muriel's harrowing journey toward self-acceptance is to relive painful moments in your past, whether you are a man or a woman.
"Muriel" is also FULL of satire. It has a lot to say about marriage and family life, and little of it is good, although I believe it leaves plenty of room for redemption for Muriel and her abusive father (well-played by Bill Hunter).
"Muriel's Wedding" isn't a perfect movie, though it's pretty damned close. The scenes of Rhonda's and Muriel's life in Sydney, in particular, seem rather episodic, without strong threads to bind them. But this is almost quibbling with a great, great film.
That's the way "Muriel's Wedding" is. It affords you no escape, if that's what you are looking for. I think that's why most people are so p***ed off about it. They want to be entertained, not depressed by a film that has to do with real life. Well, I can't be too hard on these folks. It's really the marketing department's fault for their false advertising.
But if you want to see a very powerful film and are willing be really touched by a it, then see "Muriel's Wedding."
- May 20, 2003