Showtime Australia presents a Porchlight Films Production

In association with the New South Wales Film & Television Office

& SBS Independent...

 

Mullet

2001

Country:  Australia

Language:  English

Runtime:  89 minutes

Color

Rated:  MA 15+

Genre:  Comedy/drama (according to statistical info)

 

Cast:                                                                           Crew:

Susie Porter (Tully)                                                    Director/writer:  David Caesar

Kris McQuade (Gwen)                                               Screenplay:  David Caesar

Tony Barry (Col)                                                       Cinematography: Robert Humphreys

Ben Mendelsohn (Eddie Maloney/Mullet)                Editor:  Mark Perry

Andrew S. Gilbert (Peter Maloney)                           Producer:  Vincent Sheehan

Belinda McCory (Kay)                                              Music:  Paul Healy

Peta Brady (Robbie)                                                   Art Director:  Benay Ellison

Wayne Blair (James)                                                   Prod. Design: Elizabeth Mary Moore

Paul Kelman (Gary)                                                    Costume Design:  Melinda Doring

Steve Le Marquand (Jones)

Aaron Blabey (Terry)

Jim Webb (Big Bloke)

Nash Edgerton (Winger)

Bryan Brown (Publican/voice)

 

Principal Cast & Crew History:

 

Ben Mendelsohn Filmography

 


2002- Black & White

2001- Mullet

2000- Vertical Limit

2000- Sample People

1998- Amy

1997- True Love and Chaos

1996- Idiot Box (directed by David Caesar)

1996- Cosi

1994- Sirens

1994- Metal Skin, Won Best Supporting Actor, Australian Film Critics Circle

1993- Say a Little Prayer

1992- Map of the Human Heart

1991- The Efficiency Expert

1990- Return Home

1990- Quigley Down Under

1990- Nirvana Street Murder

1989- The Big Steal, 1st Leading Role

1989- Lover Boy

1987- The Year My Voice Broke, 1st Feature Film, Won Best Supporting Actor AFI Awards


David Caesar on Ben Mendelsohn:  "I just like Ben.  I like working with him and I like him as an actor." 

                               

Susie Porter Filmography

 


2003- State of Play (mini)

2002- Sway

2002- Teesh and Trude

2002- Star Wars:  Episode II

2001- Mullet

2000- Bootmen

2000- The Monkey's Mask

2000- Better Than Sex

1999- Feeling Sexy

1999- Two Hands

1998- Aftershocks (TV)

1998- Amy

1997- Welcome to Woop Woop

1997- Paradise Road

1996- Mr. Reliable

1996- Idiot Box (Directed by David Caesar)


 

 

David Caesar on Susie Porter:  "Susie embodies a lot of the things I like about real Australian women. . . a tough no nonsense about her that I wanted for the character of Tully." 

 

Andrew S. Gilbert Filmography

 


2004- Ned Kelly

2002- Rabbit Proof Fence

2002- Dirty Deeds

2001- The Dish

2001- Mullet

1999- In a Savage Land

1999- Paperback Hero

1997- Kiss or Kill

1996- Idiot Box (Directed by David Caesar)

1990- Mortgage


 

 

David Caesar on Andrew S. Gilbert:  "Andrew's whole life is in his face . . .there's a degree of honesty about him you can really feel."

 

David Caesar History and Filmography

 

Caesar produced his first film, a 16mm, entitled No More Heroes, before attending the Australian Film, Television in Radio School.  After graduating, he worked on productions for ABC, SBS, Channel 9, and BBC.  His documentaries include Living Room, Bodywork, Fences, and Car Crash.  Caesar has also directed several television series including the recent 2004's "Fireflies," 2003's "Crashburn," and 2002's "Bad Cop, Bad Cop."  He wrote and directed his first feature film entitled Greenkeeping and went on to write and direct Idiot Box in 1996, which also stars Ben Mendelsohn, Susie Porter, and Andrew S. Gilbert.  Mullet, written over an eight-year period, was finally finished in 2000 and released in 2001.  His most recent work includes the feature film Dirty Deeds from 2002. 

 

Release Dates:

Australia:  June 28, 2001

UK:  July 6, 2002 (Commonwealth Film Festival)

Philippines:  September 20, 2003 (Australian Film Festival)

 

Box Office:

Opening figures:  $120, 280

Total $AUD:  $1,157,161

 

Production Companies:

Australian Film Company

New South Wales Film and Television Office            www.fto.nws.gov.au

Porchlight Films          www.porchlightfilms.com.au

Premium Movie Partnership

SBS Independent        www.sbs.com.au/sbsi

Showtime Australia    www.showtimeaustralia.com.au

 

(Distributers)

Dendy Globe  www.dendy.com.au/home.html

The Globe Film Company

 

Interviews:

Interview with Ben Mendelsohn:

www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=4394&s=VisionStream

Interview with David Caesar:

www.urbancinefile.com/au/home/view.asp?a=4976&s=Reviews

Interview with Robert Humphreys (cinematographer):

http://www.realtimearts.net/rt50/humphreys.html

Interview with Caesar and Sheehan:

http://www.mullet.net.au/mullet_about_product.html

Interview with Sheehan:

http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/15/sheehan.html

 

 

Reviews:

www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/14/mullet.html

www.r4.com.au/reviews/mullet.htm

www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/reviews.php3?id=718

www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/film/s326317.htm

www.girlplusboy.com/mullet.asp

www.film.guardian.co.uk/Film_Page/0,4061,667383,00.html

www.bbc.co.uk/films2002/03/12/mullet_2002_review.shtml

www.iofilm.co.uk/fm/m/mullet_2000.shtml

www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk/swmullet.htm

for various other links to reviews:  www.mrqe.com/lookup?^Mullet+(2001)

 

 

Awards and Recognition:

 

Official Selection Shanghai International Film Festival 2002

Winner Best Direction Shanghai International Film Festival 2002

Nominated for 5 AFI Awards

Winner Best Script Australian Writers Guild Awards 2001

 

Film Critics Circle of Australia 2002

Nominated:  Best Film

Nominated:  Best Actor, Ben Mendelsohn

Nominated:  Best Director, David Caesar

Won:  Best Supporting Actor, Andrew S. Gilbert

Won:  Best Screenplay, David Caesar

 

Australian Film Institute Awards 2001

Nominated:  Best Actor, Ben Mendelsohn

Nominated:  Best Supporting Actor, Andrew S. Gilbert

Nominated:  Best Supporting Actress, Belinda McClory

Nominated:  Best Achievement in Direction, David Caesar

Nominated:  Best Original Screenplay, David Caesar

 

Online Presence:

www.imdb.com

www.foreignfilms.com

www.moviemarshal.com

www.cineperspective.com

www.madman.com.au

www.afc.gov.au/australianfilmsandawards              

www.mullet.net.au

www.movies.yahoo.com

http://www.time.com/time/pacific/magazine/20010716/cinema-m.html

http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/14/mullet.html

 

(also included are the links to the reviews, interviews, and production company websites previously listed)

 

Method of Research:

As a more recent film, the most suitable method of research was found via the Internet.  Reviews of the film, Mullet, were easily located through the database of imdb.com as well as through search engines such as Google and Yahoo.  Interviews were much more difficult to find, however I managed to locate one with lead actor Ben Mendelsohn and director David Caesar through the Urbancinefile website (a subscription is required to view the entire interview, which also made the process more difficult).  Information pertaining to the production of the film as well as the cast and crew was readily available from several Internet sites. 

 

Critical Review:

Plot/Synopsis:

On the eastern coast of Australia lies the small fishing town of Coolawarra, a community seemingly peaceful and undisturbed - that is until Eddie Maloney, also known as Mullet, decides to return to what once was his home.  In the very first scene of the movie, it is obvious that Eddie, or Mullet, is an undesirable person.  This scene captures people fishing and catching a mullet, in which they say are "no good for anything."  Before the movie begins, the viewer has already been exposed to an underlying theme of the film.

 

            Eddie Maloney, or Mullet, once a former football hero and local larrakin, finds himself returning to his home after disappearing for three years without contacting his family, friends, or anyone else.  Mullet is not particularly welcomed in his unexpected return to Coolawarra, especially by his brother, Peter, and his brother's wife (and Mullet's ex-girlfriend), Tully.  While Peter seems to fear Mullet's return as a sort of threat on his wife, Tully is still angered by his unspoken departure three years prior.

            Family and relationship tension does not end there for Mullet.  While his sister, Robbie, seems excited about his sudden return and Kay, the bar waitress also greets him with enthusiasm, his parents still seem bitter about his detachment and disappearing act.

            After being in Coolawarra for a few days, Mullet is realizing the after-effects of his decision to leave the community three years before.  His old girlfriend, who he still is in love with, is now married to his only brother.  His return is bringing up problems in Peter and Tully's marriage, with Peter unable to express his feelings to his wife and Tully finding herself confused with her old feelings for Mullet.  Even Kay, his friend and local bartender, tells him "nobody wants your fish anyway," in short, expressing that nobody wanted Eddie to return.

            Feeling as though the world is against him, Mullet struggles to discover who he is and what it feels like to be alone and alienated.  His sister Robbie even becomes disgusted with him after he insults her boyfriend, James, about his race. 

            His relationship with Tully, even as a friend is shaky, after she refuses to talk with him and punches him.  Mullet finally gets the nerve to apologize to the woman he still loves, causing confusion in Tully as to why he even bothered coming back.  He states to her, "Because this is where I come from." 

            Although there is apparent family discord among the Maloneys concerning Mullet's return back to Coolawarra, an attempt is made to happily reunite and pretend as though nothing is wrong through a family barbeque.  The barbeque proves to be a disaster, as Mullet grows frustrated with his parents not speaking to each other and their seemingly un-normal relationship.  On top of this, Tully locks herself into the bathroom, miserably upset about her situation, and Peter tools with the idea of killing his own brother after his wife screams at him through the bathroom door.  Peter hears his family discussing being normal, grows extremely frustrated and steps outside to the barbeque to yell aggressively:  "being nice isn't normal."  Finally his feelings about his brother are honestly revealed and the two brothers begin to physically fight.  Tully, hearing this from inside, leaves the bathroom, sees Peter's gun on the table, and takes it outside.  She shoots the gun into the air in utter frustration with her husband, telling him she wants to be with him and that she is pregnant. 

            While the movie seems to end unfinished, with the family relationships still hostile and unsettled and with Mullet still unsure of who is he and what he wants in life, there are still many themes that are carried out and illustrated by such an awkward ending.  Viewers are able to relate to the un-normalness of the Maloney family and see that life is not always perfect, but according to Col, Mullet's father, you have to "make do with what you got."                  

 

 

Commentary:

            After first watching this film, I found myself feeling frustrated by its slow start and then unsettled and somewhat disturbed by the atypical, not-so-happy ending.  However, after thinking about the themes of the film, I realized how well this film depicts a reality that many people can relate to.  Mullet illustrates the difficulties everyone faces in relationships with friends, significant others, and mostly, with family.  It also addresses significantly the difficulties one faces within his or herself.  The main character of Mullet is forced to deal with alienation from his own family, those who are supposed to unconditionally love him.  His personal struggle with this is demonstrated through the symbolism in his nickname, Mullet:  a fish no one wants because they are no good for anything.  The source of his happiness, therefore, rests within him coming to terms with who he really is.

            As a viewer, I was able to relate to the character of Mullet as well as other characters in the film.  David Caesar's ability to create such realistic characters in his script is one of his strongest points, which compel viewers to understand and relate to the film.  The film emphasizes something everyone deals with some point in life:  family and love.  Mullet literally illustrates his confusion with this subject to his father, a subject everyone questions at some time.  He says, "I don't get it - family, love."  Mullet's father replies a simply statement, one that the movie is all about:  "It's about taking the good with the bad."

            While many viewers may be quick to judge Mullet as a slow moving, anti-climatic and maybe even boring film, one must realize the similarities this film has to everyday life.  David Caesar's incredible talent to portray such a typical situation with so many relevant themes to the mass population is where Mullet's success stems from.  This is a film that forces viewers to think, not only about Eddie Maloney's situation, but also about their own lives and their own relationships with family and friends.  Once I was able to sidestep the slow moving nature of the film and truly enjoy it for its themes and messages, I discovered how intriguing and even attention grabbing it could be.    

 

Other commentaries and reviews can be located through web links given earlier in the first section.  Most of these commentaries and reviews were given shortly after its release and provide a look at the critical uptake of the film during this time and at subsequent times also. 

 

Production Circumstances:  

Mullet began as a two-page short story written by David Caesar eight years before being finished as an Australian feature film.  Caesar had just ended a seven-year relationship only to find out that his ex-girlfriend is now getting married.  This situation brought doubts to Caesar's mind about life, his career, while stirring up thoughts of going home.  Mullet can be referred to as a somewhat autobiographical look into Caesar's personal situation with relationships, love, family, and life. 

 

In 1995, Vincent Sheehan heard about Caesar's idea for the film and took interest in its production.  The themes of love, relationships, alienation, and belonging were relatable to Sheehan and the two set out to create a dialogue around these themes.  Sheehan desired to create a distinctively Australian story while Caesar wanted to illustrate the dilemmas of being a male in Australia. 

 

The film was finished in 2000 and made for just over $1 million, which compared to other feature films, was a relatively inexpensive budget.  While the film only took eight weeks to shoot, it took more than eight years for Caesar to complete Mullet and show the world what it means to be a "bloke" in Australian society.

 

For more on Production Circumstances, see Interview with Caesar and Sheehan at:

http://www.mullet.net.au/mullet_about_product.html

 

 

Film in Relation to Crew's other work:

Cinematographer Robert Humphreys:  Robert Humphreys' two best known films include Mullet and Walking on Water and he has also found much of his work in the television industry as well.  Humphreys commented on Mullet being a type of Western, as David Caesar put it, Eddie Maloney was like a lone gunslinger coming back to his hometown.  This factored into Humphreys cinematography, as there was little camera movement and a classical composition.  In Walking on Water, Humphreys worked with director Tony Ayres, and used a different sort of cinematography, with more jerky movements and long lenses that isolated the actors in their environments. 

 

Humphreys first worked as a still photographer and then photographed nineteen television documentaries and series.  He has also photographed twenty short films, and Mullet was his first feature film in cinematography.

 

Producer Vincent Sheehan:  Sheehan began his work in the film industry at the University of Technology Sydney and Metro Screen, a community production place.  He met Caesar while working there and they began to discuss production of Mullet.  This was also his first feature film in production. 

 

Director David Caesar: Caesar produced his first film Greenkeeping in 1992, and his second was Idiot Box in 1996, which also starred Mullet actors Mendelsohn, Porter, and Gilbert.  Since the making of Mullet, Caesar has written and directed Dirty Deeds.  However, it seems like Mullet, considering the length of time it took to actually write and produce (8 years), is Caesar's biggest personal accomplishment.  Because of this accomplishment, Caesar was able to direct Dirty Deeds (2002), a film that has also received much praise as an Australian feature film. 

 

Position in Australian Cinema/Genre:

 

There has been debate over what genre of film Mullet can be placed in Australian cinema.  As noted previously in its statistical information, Mullet has been placed under the comedy/drama genre; however, this is a generalization for the film.  As noted before also, Caesar has even called his film a western because of the emphasis on Eddie Maloney being a lone ranger returning to his hometown.  Mullet can also be placed under the genre of melodrama, specifically family melodrama.  While the movie is almost anti-melodramatic, its underlying tone throughout the film still seems to create this feeling in the viewer, and of course, through the dramatic ending, it is apparent this film is, indeed, melodramatic.

Mullet is a film the Australian cinema industry should be proud of.  Besides being able to earn over $1 million in the box office, this film truly captures an Australian way of life and culture.  Caesar even captures this in his quote about the film, "I think that stories of a culture are a lot more important" (Time Pacific Magazine).  Another website summarizes the importance of this film in relation to Australian cinema:  "Mullet is the Australian screen's most perceptive depiction of our 'old' culture (ie, our old white culture) which was dominant until the 1960s but is now in remission everywhere and moribund in our big towns" (Senses of Cinema). 

In my own experience with Australian Cinema, I feel that Mullet provides a contemporary look into Australian culture, as well as allows international viewers of different cultures to relate to the film's themes.  The theme of family and relationship problems is a universal theme throughout many cultures, which is why Caesar's film was so successful in Australia and accepted by international audiences.  As stated before, even though Mullet has universal themes, its Australianness, found through the setting of the small fishing town of Coolawarra, is still easily noticeable (from the footy games to the "barbies") and is what makes the film a true Australian feature film.