Muriel's Wedding (1994)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Domestic Comedy, Odd Couple Film  |   Release Date - Sep 29, 1994 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - Australia , France   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

With all that ABBA music swirling through the soundtrack, it's surprising to realize that Muriel's Wedding is a film brimming with pain. Much like Minnie Driver would do in her own breakthrough role in Circle of Friends, versatile actress Toni Collette gained 40 pounds to embody the character who would win her an Australian Academy Award, risking typecasting as "the fat girl" in her first major role. This bold, vanity-eschewing turn delivers visceral heartache; never does one question that this sweet but unfortunate girl would lie and steal to make her life a smidgen more palatable. Even sadder is the fact that Muriel's the only one doing something about her life, however self-deceptive, while her siblings and long-suffering mum have resigned themselves to the depressing inertia that grows from aimless yearning -- a condition complicated by the betrayals of her father, a failed politico. In this tragicomic world, a sham life is better than none at all. Rachel Griffiths is equally effective as Muriel's one true friend, and the fact that Muriel does not always treat her as such lends greater complexity to these characters. In a memorable debut, P.J. Hogan directs his own layered script with a sensitive hand, perfectly blending the comedy and tragedy that vie for control of any person's life. He would continue his exploration of misguided marital exploits with My Best Friend's Wedding, the Hollywood hit that revived the career of the considerably less pitiable Julia Roberts.