Monday, July 24, 2006

Film: Mullet (Australia, 2001)

Browsing through the Internet Movie Database for the film Mullet, I was struck by how misunderstood it was. So I added a few words myself to redress the balance. The following is substantially what I said.

Reading the comments on IMDB, I wondered if I'd been watching the same film. There may have been changes for the American release, since I don't recall voice-overs for the Australian version (maybe Americans need things spelled out. Comes from watching too much Hollywood.) This film is not Hollywood. It's small in scope, with budget to match, and it runs at a tender pace. If you want something fast, get fast food. If you want something absorbing and thoughtful, watch this.

Having said that, my perspective was strangely shifted as I watched it; I can't recall another film that has done this to me so well. I thought I was watching a "small town boy makes good" film, but after a while it became obvious it was about a bloke who _couldn't_ make good with his relationships - and didn't realise it. Everyone was being nice to him, and he didn't realise he was slapping them in the face.

Maybe the other commenters here were waiting for something to happen, then didn't find anything. But the happening is in the journey, and speaks to our ability to grow, or not.

Some commented on the apparent lack of ending. There is an ending there. The fact that the final shot is held as long as it is, says volumes about the protagonist’s ability to learn.

Yet it’s possible there are two versions of the ending. The one I saw was not properly resolved which, given the nature of the film, would be the superior version. Having read about a version with a “proper” resolution, I’d say that was done more for overseas marketing purposes.

To add to the pot is a comment from Mark about growing up in a small town. Basically, when growing is done, some people want to leave as quickly as possible. This makes the decisions that much more complex, as this film ably shows.

It’s possible this film was marketed as a comedy. Rather a woeful exercise: although it has some moments of humour, it’s not a comedy in the Hollywood sense. It’s a simple ‘slice of life’ drama.

Finally, as vindication, I’d note that this film garnered a slew of Australian Film Industry Awards. And the industry here is not small or undiscriminating.

In contrast to the nay-sayers, I'll say this is one of the best Australian films of the past 10 years. There's heaps of heart in this film. Watch it with your eyes open.

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