- Director:P.J. Hogan
- Cast:Anthony LaPaglia , Toni Collette, Rebecca Gibney, Liev Schreiber
- Release Date:October 04, 2012
- Running time:116 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.00
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Taking its stylistic cues from its wild leading lady, this daring and darkly-hued comedy matches its subversive laughs with genuine heart.
Shaking up the notion of what it is to be normal, and then gleefully discarding with it all together, P.J. Hogan’s (Muriel’s Wedding) latest film poses the question of who is more mental: the supposedly normal neighbour next door who scowls while obsessively scrubbing her driveway every day, or a woman who yodels songs from The Sound Of Music and idealises the Von Trapp family? It turns out that “mental” may be a relative term. And in a world where we’re constantly expected to conform, the observations that Mental makes are incisive and resonant.
The woman breaking into impromptu renditions of The Sound Of Music classics is the worn-out Shirley Moochmore (Rebecca Gibney), who is palmed off by her embarrassed politician husband, Barry (Anthony LaPaglia), to psychiatric care. A panicked Barry impulsively recruits a hitchhiker named Shaz (a top-of-her-game Toni Collette) – who may possibly be nuts herself – to look after his five troubled daughters (headed by bright newcomer, Lily Sullivan). But it turns out that the tough-as-nails Shaz comes with personal baggage of her own in the form of a gruff shark hunter (Liev Schreiber, who effortlessly adds gravity and soul to the film).
Daring, joyfully delirious, and darkly funny, Hogan’s picture is as irrepressible as its wild leading lady. Though kicking the often tragedy-tinged laughs into twisted, subversive and outrageous places, Hogan always remains in control of the chaos. And while he may aim to upend stereotypes, the director doesn’t shy away from the realities of mental illness with a couple of truly wrenching moments. On its surface, Mental may seem a shiny and broadly sketched piece, but lurking beneath is a strange mix of tones, which Hogan has deftly pulled together into something pretty special.