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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Growing Up Aussie Style

    These days it’s rare for actresses over 50 to find parts that aren’t either grandmotherly bimbos or Good Queen Bess.

    Luckily, director Cherie Nowlan and writer Keith Thompson manage to avoid these ridiculous stereotypes of roles for older actresses in their Aussie indie flick, ‘Introducing the Dwights.’

    Part romantic comedy, part family drama, ‘Introducing the Dwights’ is a bittersweet picture of a young man (Khan Chittenden) trying to strike the right balance between his love life and home life, the latter of which is dominated by his mother (Brenda Blethyn, ‘Pride and Prejudice’), a washed up stage personality who hasn’t gotten over the fact that she’s yesterday’s news.

    Blethyn delivers a tour-de-force that would put giggly Sally Field and Diane Keaton to shame. She glows on the stage, cracking jokes about sex and men, wagging her eyebrows and flipping her skirt, then beautifully breaks down when she realizes that both her sons are quickly drifting away from her, finding new women in their lives.

    Chittenden is utterly believable as a young high school grad trying to make things work with his girlfriend Jill, whom he meets when he comes to help her and her roommate move as part of his job as a ‘man with a van.’

    Blethyn’s character, Jean, rejects Jill every way she can, trying to keep her son, Tim, for herself, and things come to a head when the neighbor across the street and friend of the family finally succumbs to cancer, reminding Jean of her own eventual mortality.

    Mark, Jean’s mentally challenged older son, rallies their friends and family to help Jean come back to her senses after a botched audition makes her finally realize that her long-awaited entertainment career will never happen.

    Blethyn manages to strike the perfect balance between hysteria and disappointment, and the tension is thick enough to cut with a knife. Only the intervention of Tim can bring Jean back to reality, and the mother-son bond is heart-breakingly rendered.

    A talented supporting cast, beautiful views of Sydney at night, and the lilt of an Australian accent are extra perks for a film already overflowing with both humor and bathos.

    The movie ends on a slightly false note, with the various tensions suddenly vanquished by a happy ending. Throughout we have the sense that this film is an honest portrait of a ‘real’ family, but the ending negates this and succumbs to the typical Hollywood form in which a comedy has to end with no loose ends.

    Despite this, however, it’s a film that will make you laugh a little, cry a little, and think a lot about growing up, moving out, and what it means to be a family.

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