Toni Colette is Muriel, a down-beaten young woman who fills the hole in her life with ABBA and dreams of the perfect wedding in her dead-end hometown of Porpoise Spit.
Along the way Muriel meets old high school friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths) and the two of them seek to correct the missteps of their teenage years. Muriel’s family, with a domestically confined mother and brood of siblings, feels close to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, while the ABBA-infused soundtrack and Aussie humour are closer to Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The resulting film is completely unique and resultantly iconic.
With a number of deeply flawed characters, the film undoubtedly takes a look at the darker side of human nature. But it’s buoyed by Collette’s charming performance in the lead role as the imperfect but well-intentioned Muriel, bringing joy-infused-sadness to rival ABBA themselves.
Muriel’s father (Bill Hunter) is a self-important local politician who blames his family for his failings and uses those around him. The quality of characters combined with the unpredictable story give depth to what is on the surface a superficial plot.
What results is a film so good even the bloke in front of me with the large head couldn’t ruin it. Nor could the ludicrously conspicuous boom that drops into shot in one scene.
A misfit comedy of the finest calibre, and also a meaningful drama, Muriel’s Wedding is the best film ever made with a soundtrack made mainly of ABBA songs.