Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Great characters, captivating performances, free-flowing direction, and a script that just keeps on dishing-out quotes:

Muriel: "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."

You might find the above quote to be an indicator that this is one of those films that's both fun and painful in equal measure.

The fun owes alot to the ubiquitous use of music by Abba throughout, most killingly in the scene when Muriel and Rhonda perform Waterloo, complete with costumes and camera-angles, at a holiday talent contest, while their horrid ex-schoolfriends beat each other up in a girlfight.

The painful? Well, infidelity, cancer, suicide... it all happens to the broken supporting acts in Muriel's perpetually unfulfilled life.

In fact, broken dreams are a universal affliction here. Nearly everyone in this film has a clear idea about who they think they should be, but in nearly every instance that vision has been informed by their perceptions of the opinions of others.

Muriel's dream is, principally, to get married. She leaves home, changes her name to Mariel, gets a job in a new town and quickly concludes that she has at last found herself. When she gets paid a ton of money to be half of a short-term arranged marriage to a visa-seeking foreign sports star, even her enemies suddenly line-up to be in with her again.

Alas, in so doing she cannot be there each day to support her only real friend - the one who wishes that 'Mariel' was still her old, true, self.

The overall message of this film is strong, unavoidable, and thanks quite a bit to Abba, lasts long after the credits have rolled.

(available here)


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