"Introducing the Dwights'" Brenda Blethyn Makes 'Dwights' a Family Worth Knowing
Jeanie lives in a modest house in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney with her two sons, Mark (
When Tim meets a beautiful girl named Jill (Emma Booth) during a moving job and falls in love, Jeanie feels so threatened by the relationship that it takes her to the edge of a nervous breakdown. On her way there, she refuses to remember Jill's name, guilt-trips Tim mercilessly over an uneaten ratatouille the first time he spends the night at Jill's house and bullies him into getting on stage with her during a benefit performance so that she can humiliate him in front of his girlfriend.
Lest this description make the film sound "Mommie Dearest" Down Under, however, Jeanie's narcissism has a flip side _ she's funny, lively and fiercely devoted to her sons. Blethyn glides between moments of fun and warm conviviality to Jeanie's more exotic emotional states as effortlessly as if she were mixing a cocktail. Screenwriter Keith Thompson based the story on his experiences growing up as the child of entertainers, and his script conjures the experience with tenderness, humor and compassion.
For a quirky Australian indie comedy, the quirk in "Introducing the Dwights" is kept refreshingly in check. These are fully realized characters, not caricatures. This goes even for Tim and Mark's father, John (Frankie J. Holden), a one-hit wonder country musician in
Wilson is very good as Mark, if (through no fault of his own) a little confusing. For a kid who was deprived oxygen to the brain, he's wittier than
The stakes are purely emotional, and yet they feel very high.
But the movie belongs to Blethyn, who takes a difficult, easily misunderstood role and gracefully cracks it open to reveal what's inside. The single false note in "Introducing the Dwights" comes at the very end, during an all-is-well epilogue that feels tacked-on and possibly mandated. But considering what Jeanie's been through, you don't begrudge her her moment of happiness.
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