Toni Collette, Rebecca Gibney, Anthony LaPaglia, Liev
Schreiber, Kerry Fox, Deborah Mailman, Caroline Goodall, Sam
Clark, Lily Sullivan, Bethany Whitmore, Malarie O'Neill,
Chelsea Bennett, Nicole Freeman
(out of 5)
It has been a long time since Muriel's Wedding
but director P.J. Hogan is back on the Queensland coast with
Toni Collette, re-examining his odd childhood.
In Mental (Rialto and Hoyts), Collette is Shaz, a
Mary Poppins for a more jaundiced age
The Moochmore clan embarrass their dad Barry (Antony
LaPaglia), the local mayor. The five girls run riot and mum
Shirley (Rebecca Gibney) pretends everything is peachy.
When Shirley has a breakdown, Barry picks up a hitchhiker to
look after the girls. He reckons she must be all right
because she has a dog.
Shaz is far from all right, but she is the sort of crazy this
family needs to kickstart it back into action.
Shaz is based on the person Hogan's dad enlisted to tend for
his family when his wife was committed, and she is such an
extreme character you know that she could never be invented.
Mental illness is a difficult subject and Hogan has been
surrounded his entire life by people with clinical problems.
This gives him a lightness of touch. He is able to present it
as serious, yet also as just a part of life's rich continuum.
You might not want to invite Shaz into your home for an
extended stay, but safely contained in a film, she is
Best thing: The acting is top-notch but Liev Schreiber
is an unexpected cracker as an Aussie shark wrangler.
Worst thing: If you are in any way prudish there are
parts of this that will have you pulling a lemon-sucking
See it with: Fans of Muriel's Wedding.
- Christine Powley