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MENTAL

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH MENTAL INSTABILITY

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By Jess Fenton
2nd October 2012
Every family is a little bit mental - ain’t that the truth - but none moreso than the Moochmore family. After five sisters are left to fend for themselves when their ‘Sound of Music’-loving mother (Rebecca Gibney) has a breakdown and “goes on holiday to Wollongong”, their overwhelmed, clueless and absentee father (Anthony LaPaglia) picks up a hitchhiker and throws her into the family home to take care of the girls. This unique spirit, Shaz (Toni Collette) and her dog Rippa, wreak havoc in the Moochmore home and throughout the whole neighbourhood in the best way possible. Shaz teaches the girls self-respect and shows them the power and attention they crave and deserve with a gut-wrenching twist you won’t see coming.
MENTAL - TRAILER

This highly autobiographical film comes from the mind of ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ writer/director P.J. Hogan. He too had a “Shaz” after his own mother’s breakdown, as well as being in the company of a schizophrenic sister and a bipolar brother. He’s also the father of two sons with autism. As a man who lives on the border of mental illness as a close witness yet not himself a sufferer, he seems lost in his place, and the film reflects that. The film suffers by not knowing where, when or even whether or not we’re allowed to laugh at the inflicted and their inflictions. Hogan has said it has taken him these 20 years to complete the right story for these cast of characters - but perhaps he needed a little more time as the films sharp, unexpected turn at its midpoint leaves the story fractured, erratic and lost; as a result, the film is not the powerhouse it could have been.

The film does boast the most spectacular performances, led by Toni Collette.

A few crass and unnecessary moments in the film including a mass “female emergency”, the overuse of “the C-word” and a gaseous bodily function serve no purpose and only weaken the film and again deter from its most serious subject matter.

Story problems aside, the film does boast the most spectacular performances, led by Toni Collette and supported by the five fantastic girls, Anthony LaPaglia, Rebecca Gibney and the ever-impressive Liev Schreiber, who accomplishes what many have tried and many have failed - a genuinely good Australian accent. It is also Schreiber who unexpectedly steals the show as traveling shark expert Trevor Blundell.

While this isn’t quite Hogan’s return to form, it's still the long-awaited reunion between the ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ director and its star. The perfect combination of Australian A-listers and newcomer cast members are worth their weight in gold and truly something to be seen.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 04/10/2012
RUN TIME: 1h 56m
CAST: Liev Schreiber
Toni Collette
Caroline Goodall
Anthony Lapaglia
Kerry Fox
Rebecca Gibney
Lily Sullivan
Deborah Mailman
Natasha Bassett
Sam Clark
WRITER/DIRECTOR: P.j. Hogan
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