Directed by: Cherie Nowlan
Written by:Keith Thompson
Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Emma Booth, Richard Wilson, Frankie J. Holden, Rebecca Gibney
Released: June 28, 2007
Grade: B

Despite the fact that we’ve made some very good films over the past two years, Australian made flicks have struggled at the box-office.  Audiences would much rather see a clichéd Hollywood blockbuster than take a chance on a small home-grown movie with great reviews.

Clubland is the latest Aussie release to hit the marketplace and the early indications are promising.  It’s being released in a number of large cinemas across the country (as opposed to just the smaller independent ones) and it’s received some good publicity.  Star Brenda Blethyn, a two-time Academy Award nominee, recently attended a special advance screening here in Brisbane to help promote it.

The story centres on a 20-year-old named Tim (Chittenden) who lives at home with his mother, Jean (Blethyn), and his younger brother, Mark (Wilson).  To say that Tim has lived a sheltered life would be an understatement.  Jean has kept a very tight reign over her son and she isn’t prepared to let go.

Everything changes with the arrival of Jill (Booth), a girl who Tim meets whilst out working as a removalist.  The pair go on a date and soon enough, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend.  As you’d expect, this doesn’t go down well with Jean.  She’s always been the most important woman in Tim’s life and now that things have changed, it’s not easy.  Confrontation ensues and Tim finds himself picking up the pieces.

Clubland is a crowd pleasing movie.  Audiences will find humour in the story and will be able to relate to its characters.  If I have one criticism, it’s that the acting is a little over the top at times.  Jean’s obsessiveness and Tim’s naivety are just too hard to believe.  Are people actually like this or is it being dramatised for effect by writer Keith Thompson?  The most interesting character for me was Tim’s girlfriend (played very well by Emma Booth).  She had some deep seeded insecurities which I wish were explored further.

Those who regularly attend RSL clubs will probably be interested by the film’s setting.  Jean is a part-time comedian and performs at a bunch of RSL clubs across Sydney.  She loves being in front of a crowd.  As a sub-plot in the film, Jean hires a new agent with the hope of landing some bigger gigs.

English actress Brenda Blethyn is the star of the film but there are a few familiar Aussies who make an appearance.  Frankie J. Holden as Tim’s father and Rebecca Gibney as Jean’s best friend are both great.  Richard Wilson, who had the lead in 48 Shades, is almost unrecognisable as Tim’s intellectually disabled brother.

It’s probably not the best Australian film of the year but it’s definitely worth a look.