Muriel finds life in Porpoise Spit, Australia dull and spends her days alone in her room listening to Abba music and dreaming of her wedding day…
Release Year: 1994
Rating: 7.1/10 (17,134 voted)
Critic's Score: 63/100
Stars: Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Bill Hunter
Muriel finds life in Porpoise Spit, Australia dull and spends her days alone in her room listening to Abba music and dreaming of her wedding day. Slight problem, Muriel has never had a date. Then she steals some money to go on a tropical vacation, meets a wacky friend, changes her name to Mariel, and turns her world upside down.
(as Rosalind Hammond)
(as Daniel Wyllie)
David Van Arkle
Girl at Wedding
A Story of Love, Laughter and the Pursuit of Matrimony, everyone is invited!
Release Date: 10 March 1995
Filming Locations: CentrePoint Tower, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Box Office Details
Did You Know?
The name of Muriel's fictional fiancée, Tim Simms, is has resonances (perhaps unintentional or even subconscious) with the names of two Australian food items – Tim Tams (a chocolate-coated biscuit, or cookie in US English) and Dim Sims (a pseudo-Asian meat dish).
When Brice is on top of Muriel on the sofa, Muriel's arm changes from by her head, to gripping Brice's arm.
When I lived in Porpoise Spit, I used to sit in my room for hours and listen to ABBA songs. But since I've met you and moved to Sydney, I haven't listened to one Abba song. That's because my life is as good as an Abba song. It's as good as Dancing Queen.
Incredibly Moving Performance by Toni Collette
Where do you go and to whom do you turn, when it's time to emerge from
adolescence and get on with your life, but you find yourself incapacitated
from having had your self esteem methodically peeled away year after
miserable year by a brutal father who has convinced you that you're worth
less than a piece of garbage a dog wouldn't touch? That's the story of
Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette), a young woman who, along with her brothers
and sisters, has been mercilessly and ceaselessly denigrated and publicly
humiliated by her father, Bill Heslop (Bill Hunter), seemingly since the day
she was born, in `Muriel's Wedding,' directed by P.J. Hogan. Bill Heslop is
a local councilman in the less-than-thriving city of Porpoise Point,
Australia. In the eyes of those who don't know him, he's a great man, a
hero even; and he's definitely a legend in his own mind. But in his own
home he doles out psychological abuse relentlessly– and the sad thing is,
he does it seemingly without realizing what he's doing. Muriel, out of
school, but so unsure of herself that she's unable to wrench herself free of
the dominating Mr. Heslop, escapes into a world of ABBA songs and daydreams
of her own wedding, which she perceives as being the ultimate reward– the
thing that will finally bring her happiness and give her life meaning.
Not surprisingly, Muriel has some problems to work out before she can even
think of making a change that will turn her life around. Her lack of self
esteem has rendered her socially inept, overweight, slow witted and
incapable of making a decision. And as far as the wedding that will change
everything– well, Muriel has no boyfriend, never has had one, and there are
certainly no prospects on the horizon. Her dream of being ABBA's `Dancing
Queen,' is about as remote as pigs that can fly. Muriel does have friends,
however; four girls she knows from school, one of whom just got married,
into whose lives she basically imposes herself in a last ditch effort to
find acceptance any way she can. Then one night, even they tell her not to
come around them anymore, that she is an embarrassment. And for Muriel,
it's the final straw that drives her to do something desperate. Something
that will ultimately change her life forever.
That it is billed as an `Hilarious comedy about friends, fun and unexpected
surprises' and `Hysterically funny,' makes you wonder about the marketing
machinery of the entertainment industry. Is it a funny movie? Yes, it is;
just as life is often funny, even when it's at it's worst. Hilarious? Yes.
All of which seems contradictory to the story that is at the heart of the
film. And yet, it's those very contradictions, those same multi-layered
complexities of which life is made, that makes this such a wonderful movie.
On one hand, Bill Heslop is one of the most despicable characters you'll
ever encounter in a film; and on the other, Muriel is one of the most
sympathetic. The humor of this film is derived from the natural and very
real situations in which the characters find themselves. And just as there
is something within us all that at times allows us to laugh at the
misfortunes of others (perhaps occasionally born of a `better you than me'
mentality), there are things you're going to laugh at in this film. But as
you sit back and watch as one misery upon another is heaped upon Muriel,
you'd have to be either an unfeeling person or a sociopath not to be crying
at least on the inside, even if you're laughing on the outside. There are
times when you just want to reach out to Muriel and let her know that one
way or another, everything is going to be okay.
Toni Collette (in her second film) gives an incredibly moving performance as
Muriel, making her about as real as a character can get. She conveys so
much through her body language and facial expressions alone, that you can
feel the torment and the turmoil she keeps bottled up and buried deep within
herself, without ever having to hear her speak a word. Anyone who's ever
known even a moment of misfortune in their life will be able to relate to
her. Unwittingly, she wears her feelings on her sleeve; not that she wants
to, but when your cup of adversity finally overflows, it's going to show.
And it takes a special actor to play a character like this and make her so
convincing, without taking it over the top or into the gray planes of
melodrama. And Collette is that actor. She's perfect in this role, and she
had to be for this film to work. Anything less than a perfect counterpoint
to the character of Bill Heslop would've quickly derailed this project, and
the humor alone wouldn't have done the job. All of the tricks, jokes and
funny lines in the world wouldn't have been enough to overcome that very
real sense of loathing Bill Hunter brings to the role of Heslop.
The supporting cast includes Rachel Griffiths (Rhonda), Sophie Lee (Tania),
Rosalind Hammond (Cheryl), Belinda Jarrett (Janine), Pippa Grandison
(Nicole), Jeanie Drynan (exceptionally effective as Betty, Muriel's mother)
and Daniel Lapaine (David). In one of the most uplifting scenes you're ever
likely to see in a movie, Muriel and Rhonda lip-sync to ABBA's `Waterloo,'
which in the screenplay probably came across as something fun but rather
insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But on the screen, it becomes
a moment that is absolutely transporting. And that's the magic of `Muriel's
Wedding.' It takes you into the dark, but never allows you to languish
there; ultimately, it takes you into the light, and when it does, it's
brighter than anything you could imagine. I rate this one 10/10.