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Film Review: Mental

I have to be honest here, I hated Mental. I thought it was vulgar, crude, outrageous (not in a good way!) and a poor representation of Aussie culture and humour.

Mostly, I was disappointed that the dialogue on such a delicate issue as mental illness was not given the intelligent platform it deserved. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with using comedy to promote a subject, especially one which is so frequently brushed aside like mental illness, but I just couldn’t reconcile with the obscenity of the way it was presented.

The screening I attended was followed by a Q&A session with director PJ Hogan, and I’m glad I hung around to listen to what he had to say because it did make me feel a little better about the film (I went from loathing it to extremely disliking it, which was an improvement). According to Hogan, much of the events and characterisation in Mental is actually based on real people and events that have occurred in Hogan’s life. To that end, Hogan is especially brave for baring his soul so widely open. That can’t have been easy and he deserves credit for doing so.

One of the major problems with Mental is that the storyline is only marginally different from Hogan’s classic, Muriel’s Wedding, so it feels a little unoriginal. Also, too many sub-plots clog up the story, and crude humour (lighting farts etc) just isn’t funny. Still, if you must see Mental, see it for the acting which is exceptional, especially from newcomer Lily Sullivan who is an absolute delight.

If you see Mental, please do let me know what you think. Is it as bad as I thought? Or have I missed the crazy point?

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