Sarah Cooper reviews Australian Film Mental – giving it 3 out of 5 stars
Mental is an all-Australian comedy about the Moochmores – a family of five young sisters struggling to cope after their Mother (Rebecca Gibney) has a nervous breakdown. It’s a story that accesses the often serious themes of mental illness through the comical styling’s of writer/director P.J. Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding).
The Moochmore’s absentee Father (Anthony LaPaglia) is running for re-election as town Mayor and seems to care more for his campaign than his wife or his young brood. So when his wife is admitted to hospital, instead of returning home to care for his family, he picks up a hitch hiker, Shaz (Toni Collette), to fill the role of mother.
Shaz comes strolling into the home and takes matters into her own hands. She has a wild presence and is on a mission to change the girls and give them some self esteem. Initially the kids feel threatened by Shaz (who carries a big knife) and her ferocious dog, but they soon warm to her.
As someone who was raised by a mother with a mental illness, I really connected with the five Moochmore daughters, all of whom feel they are abnormal compared to other ‘normal’ families. It was refreshing for the focus to be on the children, as traditionally the focus of mental health-themed movies is on the person living with the illness.
The movie took a very comical view of some serious topics, often taking it to the point where the true message was lost in the movie’s immature slapstick. Some of the comedy I even found to be quite uncomfortable, making me squirm in my chair.
All in all the movie was enjoyable, albeit hard to take in at times due to its corny nature. Nevertheless I would give the film three stars and recommend it to anyone who has felt that at times their family is ‘Mental’.
Review by Sarah Cooper – child of a parent with a mental illness