Mother and son come of age

Mother and son come of age

Immediately after the climactic moment of the Australian comedy-drama Clubland, its star Brenda Blethyn is shown onstage at a Sydney RSL club singing Nutbush City Limits. Accompanied by Frankie J. Holden, she’s also performing the traditional dance steps. It’s a nice cue for the movie’s final fade-out, lightly summing up its affection for the characters’ dagginess. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fade out there but overstates the point by subjecting us to the entire musical number.

Clubland could have done with a lighter touch, especially with Blethyn’s role. Presumably, when you get a multi-award-winning actress coming to make an Australian movie, you need to give her plenty of scenes and, fabulous as she is, here she outstays her welcome.

She plays Jean Dwight, an English stand-up comedienne who gave up her successful career 25 years ago to immigrate with her one-hit-wonder country-singing husband (Holden). Now she works days in a canteen and at nights makes 21-year-old son Tim drive her around to stand-up club gigs in his truck. Her comedy material is desperately unfunny (though members of the preview audience were laughing) and as a mother she’s a self-absorbed domineering bitch who neglects the better interests of both sons (her older son, played not very convincingly by Richard Wilson, was brain-damaged at birth).

Tim (Khan Chittenden) is the other main character, and Clubland is a coming-of-age story for both him and his mother. He’s not too bright and a virgin to boot, but he lucks on to beautiful Jill (Emma Booth), who initially mistakes his shyness for rejection. Finally he reveals his guilty secret -“ his parents are entertainers.

At first he’s annoyingly stupid, but the camera loves him, and eventually you will too. Booth, a former teenage model, looks ready to be snapped up by Hollywood, and she’s fairly convincing when required to stand up to Blethyn onscreen.

Talented actors Russell Dykstra (as Jean’s gay agent), Rebecca Gibney and Philip Quast are also on hand, but ultimately Clubland tries too hard to be a crowd-pleaser.

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.