In Muriel’s wedding, the perception of comedian has soon arrived into a melodrama derived by P.J Hogan, as the film covers the low self-esteem Muriel in breaking through the bondages around her family and friends, trespassing from suburban to civilisation. Muriel begins the film as an overweight loser from Queensland, a woman trapped by a dysfunctional family, an apathetic neighbourhood, and a clique of beautiful “best friends.” The movie opens with a shot of a beautiful friend’s wedding, where one of the clique members is shown having an affair with the groom.
The movie moves that fast: credits, wedding, affair. Before the scandalous couple have time to emerge from their private room the ugly misfit Muriel is taken into custody by the police. Apparently, she never paid for her leopard-print dress. (3) Hogan establishes his characters rather quickly. The evil clique is made up of Barbie look-alikes who criticize Muriel for not wearing frosted lipstick. Muriel is clumsy, overweight and “useless,” hopelessly ostracized from the inner circle by her unemployment and consequent failure to follow fashion.
“I’ve got a job,” Muriel tells them, referring to a cosmetics sales position offered by her father’s mistress. “It’s not your clothes,” the friends retort, it’s you.”
Crushed, Muriel steals money from her parents and buys a holiday at the same resort where the clique is staying. Once there she meets up with a friend from high school (Rachel Griffiths) whose noble character is symbolized by her short black hair and indifference toward fashion.
The two women celebrate their independence from the neurosis of Porpoise Spit by running away to Sydney, where they get jobs, meet men, and have the time of their lives. “When I was living in Porpoise Spit I used to sit in my room all day and listen to Abba songs,” Muriel says. “Since I’ve come to Sydney, I haven’t listened to Abba at all.” Muriel’s Wedding uses the songs of the Swedish supergroup as a clever link to the thoughts and feelings of Muriel, a young Australian woman obsessed with becoming married as soon as possible.
Muriel lives with her go-nowhere family in the town of Porpoise Spit, where she spends most of her time in her room, listening to ABBA when her father isn’t giving her grief. The point of this movie is very simple: in order to escape from insecurity and stagnant immobility one must rebel against the conventions held by beautiful people, cut one’s hair, buy a new wardrobe, and forge a new life on one’s own. If theft and dishonesty are the only ways that these ends can by achieved, so much the better. Another point of symbolisation in this case can be compared by the use of location VS Muriel’s self esteem.
Viewers can compare Muriel’s self esteem from the beginning as she stays in Porpoise Spit a so call suburbia or small town where she’s in search of a higher self esteem where here Sydney takes place. Although her ultimate utopia is still the wedding, however once met, she would kindly realize that life is far more beyond. (1)(6) Sadly to say that throughout the whole film, none of the scenes appear natural, instead, they look like Hogan has manipulated the gray shades of everyday experience in order to come up with a cast of characters that are either too black, too white, too good, or too obviously evil. Although Muriel’s Wedding does an excellent job of conveying the attitudes and economic realities of small Australian towns, it fails to capture the subtle interludes of conversation that make characters seem like real people. For example, the character of Muriel’s mother (Jeanie Drynan) is not developed at all. She is shown once standing in her kitchen, lost in a zombie-like trance, and then again in a restaurant, oblivious to the presence of her husband’s mistress.
It is not until Muriel ignores her at her own wedding and Muriel’s father moves in with his mistress that we see this woman come to life, and then she kills herself. (6) Muriel’s father is another stock character, as is her celebrity immigrant husband. Hogan may as well have used cardboard cut outs to play their roles, writing “philandering politician” on one and “Olympic diver” on the other. Their lives do not figure into the plot of the movie; what matters is what they can do for Muriel. In the end they each contribute about ten grand. Muriel’s Wedding is an entertaining film after all with a bit of an identity crisis: it doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy or a drama. The filmmakers perpetually toy with the viewers, dragging them from high comedy to melodramatic tragedy in a heartbeat, and more than once. This problem arises whenever the camera is not on Muriel, who really owns this picture completely. Whenever the plastic supporting cast is the main focus, the film falls flat. A tacked-on, bittersweet ending doesn’t help, either.