This hugely influential feel-good comedy did more than launch its female leads into international stardom: it alerted Hollywood to the astonishing  reservoir of talent in Australia’s film industry.

Toni Collette plays Muriel Hislop, an ugly duckling from Porpoise Spit, who longs to have the white wedding of her dreams. She takes a step closer to her fantasy life when, during an impromptu vacation, she runs into old classmate Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths), a wacky headcase who shares her love of ABBA. With the help of Rhonda’s sharp tongue, Muriel gradually breaks out of her shell. She finds romance, of a sort, with David Van Arckle (Daniel Lapaine), a South African swimmer who needs an Australian passport to compete in the 1996 Olympics. So far, so funny. But  writerdirector PJ Hogan has some unexpected twists in store before his quirky farce reaches its uplifting conclusion.

Collette and Griffiths make a terrific double act, while Hogan effortlessly steers his film between broad satire and more challenging, emotional waters.

Neil Smith


Please note that the festival is over 18s only