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Muriel’s Wedding : 20th Anniversary Edition

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The second holy grail of the Australian film industry along with ”Priscilla”. Together, they formed twin pillars of the unexpected rescue effort of Australian film. Nobody saw it coming, but the little film that could about the girl from Porpoise Spit ushered in a new New Wave in Australian movies and made filmmakers, investors and international studios sit up and take notice.

In hindsight, it’s hard to see what the appeal was. A modern allegory straight from the tale of the Ugly Duckling? A pre-”Kath and Kim” stab at Australian cultural mores, so many of which is nailed perfectly? A modern, female, comic Rocky?

Whatever the secret sauce was, it was a small-scale but ambitious comedy about the clumsy, sort of dumpy Muriel (Colette) whose only dream is a fairytale wedding and the growing up she does in the real world to get there.

After one too many rebuffs from her snobby friends, Muriel decides to leave her small seaside town home and go with the cooler, more daring Rhonda (Griffiths), who she meets on an impromptu holiday and who accepts her as she is and starts to bring her out of her shell. At its most basic, it’s a story of redemption and freedom, and while asides like Rhonda’s succumbing to a degenerative spine disease and the corruption hearings endured by her father (Hunter) aren’t really out of place, they aren’t really related to her.

It was a comic drama without dark or guilty overtones, shoddy special effects or everything else we’d been used to from Australian movies for several decades. Maybe that was the only quality everyone latched onto.

Extras : The newly-packed ‘Anniversary Edition’ DVD comes complete with extras, a ‘sing-a-long’ option (yes, we’ll indeed be giving that a whirl this weekend – after a few pints!), and splashy new artwork (reminiscent of the US theatrical poster, if memory serves me correct).

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About Drew Turney

An Australian-based film critic and celebrity interviewer now based in Los Angeles, California.
Author: Drew Turney
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