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Muriel's Wedding

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Muriel's Wedding

Starring: Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths
Director: P.J. Hogan
Rated: R
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: March 1995
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Foreign

*Also starring: Bill Hunter, Jeanie Drynan, Gennie Nevinson Brice, Matt Day, Daniel Lapaine, Chris Haywood

Review by Brian Koller
2 stars out of 4

"Muriel's Wedding" is a comedy with dramatic elements. The film is often interesting, but many scenes aren't credible, and the humor doesn't always work.

Muriel (Toni Collette) is an Australian young woman with problems. She hasn't had a job for two years, is somewhat overweight, is getting shunned by her former friends, and spends free time alone in her room listening to ABBA songs. She steals a large sum of money from her parents, and spends it on a vacation, where she is befriended by old high school chum Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths). Not able to face her parents, Muriel moves away from home. Her situation continues to improve as she has an arranged marriage with a South African swimmer needing Australian citizenship. Things do not go as well for her parents, or for Rhonda.

The audience is expected to sympathize with Muriel, if not identify with her. But she has few redeeming qualities besides humility: she is a liar and a thief, she's not particularly bright, and she has no ambition in life besides marriage. The people I feel sorry for is her parents. Her father is a garrulous local politician with three unemployed adult children still living at home. He makes the mistake of giving Muriel a blank check, and she cleans out his account and absconds. Soon he finds himself facing prison with his career destroyed. The mother is betrayed by everyone she loves.

In the first part of the film, Muriel tries to hang out with several snobbish young women who reject her. They are shallow beyond belief, and have no inhibitions about discussing their crude sexual adventures.

Before meeting her husband, Muriel dates a nervous, pale fellow. He is so taken with her that he attends her wedding. I just don't see his character attending the wedding. He would have to go to some trouble to find out when and where it was, and certainly there are more interesting women for him to develop an obsession for.

Muriel's new-found husband proves to be a disappointment. He dislikes her and is only interested in Olympic training. He has a constant sneer on his face. Later in the film, he suddenly desires her. This change in his behaviour isn't convincing. Even more unlikely is what happens next: Muriel, who has fantasized about marriage all her adult life, dumps her now-interested famous and dreamy husband to take care of her now-paraplegic friend Rachel, who is already cared for by her mother.

"Muriel's Wedding" is by no means a bad film, but it is overrated. I recommend it mostly to those who might enjoy listening to some of ABBA's hit singles, since that constitutes the film's score.

Copyright 1994 Brian Koller

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