We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
When Muriel catches the bouquet at a friend's wedding, her friends are furious: "Throw it again - you'll never get married." She doesn't look like much of a catch, in a leopard-skin dress that stands out so much she's spotted by another wedding guest who is, unfortunately, a floorwalker at the store where Muriel shoplifted it. She's delivered home from the wedding by the police, but is spared arrest when her dad, a local politician with the backslapping ease of a much more successful man, treats the cops to a case of beer.
This is in Porpoise Spit, Australia ("Jewel of the North Coast"), and P. J. Hogan's "Muriel's Wedding" is another of those Australian films that walk a careful line between satire and misery.
Like "Man of Flowers," "High Tide," "Sweetie," "Proof" and "Strictly Ballroom," it is merciless in its portrait of provincial society, and yet has a huge affection for its misfit survivors. When Muriel (Toni Collette) is wounded, she retreats to her bedroom, drowning out reality with Abba songs. She is a large, big-boned young woman with unruly hair and a clueless look, and her friends from high school - swimsuit issue wannabes with promiscuous but grim sex lives - don't want her around anymore. They're planning a holiday on a tropical island and she will not enhance their appeal.
Muriel's home life is cheerless, with an undertone of tragedy in Betty, her mother (Jeanie Drynan), a thoroughly cowed woman who is treated by her children like a domestic slave and by her husband Bill (Bill Hunter) as a household appliance who cooks and cleans. Bill is a failed politician who takes obscure Japanese investors to dinner in Chinese restaurants where he is owed free meals because of shady favors. His children are couch potatoes who sit, stunned, staring at the television. At least Muriel has had enough ambition to flunk out of secretarial school.