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Saturday, 16 March 2013

REVIEW - Goddess

This is the first Aussie film for 2013, and being a dramedy musical with a list of outstanding actors and some first timers, it could have gone either way. Fortunately all of the songs, performances, actors and sets come together to produce an outstanding film, setting the bar high for the Australian film industry and showing that we can do musicals and do them justice for the big screen.

Based on Joanna Weinberg's one woman show of the same name, Goddess follows a young family who have migrated from London to Tasmania in Australia for a better life. Elspeth Dickens (Laura Michelle Kelly) is stuck at home with two twin boys who are proving more than a handful while her husband James (Ronan Keating) is away for weeks at a time studying whales in the Antartica. Elspeth is shunned by a group of local mothers who make fun of her and exclude her from their gatherings, while her children run rampant in the local supermarket proving to be more than she can handle by herself day after day.

When James leaves Elspeth with a webcam as a way to communicate with him while he is on the ship, when he doesn't appear on the other end Elspeth starts performing her songs and broadcasting them on a webcam feed for the whole world to see. Her songs are noticed by an advertising agent Cassandra Wolfe (Magda Szubanski) who entices her to come to Sydney and become a star, now Elspeth must juggle her marriage, children and impending stardom.

At this movie's heart it is a musical, and the main elements of a musical are a good story and some amazing songs that compliment and enhance the story. Something that Goddess oozes, it has such a relateable and touching story and the songs only enhance that feeling of love and loss and feeling trapped by a life you didn't sign up for. The songs are addictive and will have you singing them over and over for days after you have left the cinema.

Cast wise is an outstanding culmination of Australian and UK talent, Laura Michelle Kelly shines as the lead and her singing and silly personality shines through as this trapped artist who finds a way. Ronan Keating is enchanting in his acting debut and while he is only limited to one song, he offers a lot to this role. Magda Szubanski has played a lot of roles from The Golden Compass, Babe and Kath And Kimderella, but she really comes into her own and (almost!) steals the show as the binge eating, career driven high powered corporate bitch (in joke if you have seen it!) As well as these talented actors a slew of Aussie's including Corinne Grant, Dustin Clare, Hugo Burt, Pia Miranda and Natalie Tran all bring their A game.

The film is split between Tasmania and Sydney, sweeping shots of the green open plains in Tassie are breath taking and should see a great tourism boost for the state. Placing Elspeth's piano in the outside barn is a stunning scene of the mix of the two, Sydney comes alive with shots of the harbour bridge and opera house incorporating corporate offices and waterfront restaurants are a stark contrast to the countryside of Tasmania.

The musical numbers are choreographed perfectly, there are moments when the movie is extremely camp and cartoonish but it never goes too far. As fun as it gets, it never strays too far from being a musical dramaedy with a huge heart. The majority of the characters in this movie are extremely clumsy, the problem with this is that each character seemed cursed with falling into the chest of drawers, bumping into a table and dropping keys, bags and anything else they seem to be holding and instead of being a quirk for a particular character it spread to all the characters and just came off as a bit ridiculous.

Overall this is a fantastic Aussie film and continues to prove that we can do comedy and make musicals that work, there are flashes of this movie that reminded me of the film Cosi, and is the kind of movie that I want to hold onto and treasure for a very long time. If you are a fan of musicals or rom com's definitely check this one out at the movies, you will not be disappointed.

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