Muriel’s Wedding

There was an Australian movie, Muriel’s Wedding, which, incidentally, starred both Toni Collette and Rachel Griffith before they were famous. It features Muriel Heslop, a complete no-hoper trying desperately to compete with her beautiful, popular mates. They all come from an obscure NSW town no-one gives a crap about.

Eventually, she meets up with Rhonda, a party-girl, who takes her half-way to being herself – but eventually she has to make her own way there and face up to her own demons.

There’s a well-known Australian book, Looking for Alibrandi, which puts it succinctly: you can run away, but eventually you have to stop, and you’ll have the same old demons, but with no-one you know to help you”¦

In an attempt to live up to the standards of her glamorous school-friends, Muriel enters into a marriage with a hunky South African celebrity seeking a passport. Her snubbing friends clamour to be her bridesmaids, but ultimately Muriel realises Rhonda meant more to her than they did. She made a mistake, choosing glister over gold, and she has to go eat humble pie.

Eventually, Muriel realises that no matter how far, how spectacularly she runs, the demons are still there, and she faces them on her own – the only way that demons can be faced. She tells her father he stuffed up, and she blows kisses goodbye to her home town, having outgrown it in every sense of the word, as they race out of there. “˜GOODBYE, PORPOISE SPIT!’ remains one of my favourite quotes, however obscure it may be – I have never seen a more heartfelt or symbolic portrayal of shedding one’s skin for once and for all”¦

Muriel’s Wedding is one of my favourite movies because the heroine was unglamorous, plain-looking, and she faced her own demons, with no man in tow.

Comments

  1. says

    I love that movie! I had forgotten all about it! It was a very liberating ending, and a great, real character. I should Netflix it and see if it’s still as good as my 13 year old self thought it was.

  2. Gategrrl says

    When I first (finally) saw Muriel’s Wedding on television, I was a little shocked while watching it – suprised, maybe, is the word – it was heavily marketed as an Abba inspired, hokey type of Ugly Girl Is Cinderella comedy; but it was NOTHING like that. It had some obvious twists to it, but I thought a lot of the film was such a downer and not a comedy at all. Her mother does not, after all, survive her father’s and sibling’s ill-treatment.

  3. MaggieCat says

    Her mother does not, after all, survive her father’s and sibling’s ill-treatment.

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie but this is the thing that tends to stick out for me. I have no idea why, with a movie I love so much that has so many good things, it’s the truly pitiable character that I can’t forget, but it always is. Perhaps it’s because it could so easily be the road not traveled for Muriel, so it makes the contrast that much clearer.

  4. scarlett says

    Perhaps it’s because it could so easily be the road not traveled for Muriel, so it makes the contrast that much clearer.

    I never thought about it like that. I was reading a book recently which talked about the emphases which is placed on marriage for women – specifically the wedding – like you’re dress, shoes, reception is somehow an indicator of your worth as a woman. The author cited MW a lot, and it’s so true – you look at Tanya’s obsession with being a ‘blissful bride’ and having a ‘perfect wedding’ and how it was somehow Muriel’s fault that one of the bridesmaid’s had broken up with her boyfriend (thereby postponing her own perfect wedding:8) – I’m begining to wish I’d watched it again and ammended this post because I think there’s a lot more in there worth writing about…

  5. Gategrrl says

    When I see Muriel’s Wedding on the cable listings, I’m tempted to pause and watch it. But it’s a film I *appreciate* but in many ways, just don’t like. It’s not a “feel good” movie to me – and, as I said before, it wasn’t the comedy I expected it to be, what with tragedy after tragedy piled onto the characters. The affirmation at the end doesn’t quite pay-off for the all the rotten things that happened before.

    It kinda-sorta reminds me of another movie I was ‘forced’ to watch – “The Number One”, I think it was called, about an English boy in South Africa who has SO many bad things happen to him and the people he loves and others around him, you have to wonder what the hell the pay-off was – it was simply too much.

  6. scarlett says

    Well it’s got a lot of Australianisms in it – it actually borders on what I really dislike about the ‘poor rural/semi-rural loveable drongo’ stereotype that permeates Australian film and TV (for a great movie, check out Lantata.) I’m still surprised when I hear non-Australians saying they’ve seen the movie, let alone how much they loved it :p

    As far as the way it was promoted as a huge ABBA thing – it was made in the middle of the Abba revival we had ten years ago, although I’m not sure how much of that was intentially worked into the film and how much of it was they happened to have a story about a girl who’s obsession is a cataylst for her growing into her own skin and hey, that obsession coincides with a huge fad so let’s promote that element, and how much was specifically written in because of the Abba fad, i don’t know.

  7. sbg says

    Gategrrl said:

    It kinda-sorta reminds me of another movie I was ‘forced’ to watch – “The Number One”, I think it was called, about an English boy in South Africa who has SO many bad things happen to him and the people he loves and others around him, you have to wonder what the hell the pay-off was – it was simply too much.

    I think that’s The Power of One.

    As for Muriel’s Wedding, I can’t disagree that overall it was not a comedy. Parts of it were downright black, and yet I love it anyway. While thoroughly depressing to think of Muriel’s poor mother, it’s nice to see them show this woman refuse to follow the same path, though at the beginning it seems like that’s all there is for her. She proves that’s not the case at all.

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