"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