Monday, July 25, 2011

"Muriel's Wedding" 1994

“Muriel’s Wedding”. It has great actors. It has ABBA music. And it makes me cry every time.

Muriel is a mess. She is a liar and a thief. But she ultimately wants to be accepted and wants to fall in love. Her mother is on one edge of sanity, her philandering father on the other. She has been told all her life that she is useless. Is it any surprise that one day she decides to marry a complete stranger just so she can have a wedding and be a success?

I first saw this movie when I was working for a video distributor. I would get advance copies of movies coming out and would watch them in anticipation of selling them to video stores. Miramax used to do great meetings with prizes, so it was to one’s advantage to have watched all their films. I hadn’t heard of the movie. It was my introduction to foreign films. I don’t remember winning any prizes, but this movie was amazing.

From the opening scene, when Muriel is at the pseudo friend’s wedding, I was hooked. I saw a kindred spirit in Muriel. Here was a girl that just desperately wanted to fit in and be with the popular girls, even years after high school. When she is arrested at the wedding it sets off a chain of events that change her life.

I love that Muriel is a liar. She lies to everyone, even her best friend, Rhonda. In fact the whole friendship is based on a lie. But she exudes vulnerability. Toni Collette smiles and it is heartbreaking. Rachel Griffith is incredible as Muriel’s best friend, roommate and ultimately her redemption. She is fearless and saucy.

So many moments without words. The mean girls jumping at the chance to be in Muriel’s wedding. Muriel’s tragic mother, who crumples before our eyes. Rhonda sitting in the corner alone.

This movie led me to others starring these two incredible actresses. Rachel Griffith was the reason I started watching “Six Feet Under”. “The United States of Tara” was Toni Collette’s tour de force and it was cancelled too soon.

I love the triumphant final scene. Muriel has decided to stop lying. She leaves her false husband, tells her father that she isn’t useless and rescues Rhonda. They ride down the road, leaving their past behind and yelling goodbye to it with such joy and hope it never fails to make me smile.

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