Muriel is a single unemployed daughter of a well off businessman. She lives in a town that bores her, spending her days listening to ABBA songs and thinking about getting married. However things start to change for Muriel after she goes on holiday, meets an old friend and changes her name to Mariel.
What Muriel’s’ Wedding achieves is to be at its heart a rom com that contains much more serious themes (mental health, feminism), without losing any of it central rom com charm. It is regularly very funny, even more regularly heart-warming and surprisingly regularly deeply moving.
Centrally it’s an ugly duckling movie, where one character transforms from someone stereotypically unappealing into the metaphorical majestic swan. However where in many rom coms the transformation is a very appearance based thing, with the result being the woman changing to be something men would like more, in Muriel’s Wedding this transformation is internal. Where Muriel starts out as a woman devoid of self-confidence due to the constant belittling she receives from her father and her friends. When Muriel tries to undergo the usual rom com transformation and change who she is, she finds that she can’t, and moreover shouldn’t have to.
It’s also a really fantastic looking film, with at times brilliant usage of colour to reflect moods and feelings. The soundtrack is almost entirely comprised of ABBA songs, but they aren’t just used as pop songs, they also signify the state of the central character’s mind. Toni Collette is absolutely fantastic as Muriel, and is one of the actors that have never really made it big, as to why that is I have no idea, given she has shown she can handle pretty much every genre with ease and has an accent mastery to rival Michael Fassbender (Until I looked up where she was from I had literally no idea due to having only seen her in the Sixth Sense, About a Boy and this).
Overall, it’s so so much more than just a rom com – although as just a rom com it would still be brilliant – it’s a much more serious film that at times could probably be counted as a satire.