Jasmine Hayward 30495828

MED231 Dr Garry Gillard

Assignment 2: Critical Review

 

Clubland (2007)
 

Clubland (2007) - Rating: M

"There are never only two people in a family love story"

 
Principal Cast
 

Jeanie Dwight - Brenda Blethyn

Tim - Khan Chittenden

Jill - Emma Booth

Mark - Richard Wilson

John Maitland - Frankie J. Holden

Lana - Rebecca Gibney

Ronnie Stubbs - Philip Quast

Kelly - Katie Wall

Shane - Russell Dykstra

Brenda BlethynKhan Chittenden

Emma BoothRichard Wilson

Frankie J. HoldenRebecca Gibney

 

 

The Filmmakers

 

Director - Cherie Nowlan

Producer - Rosemary Blight

Writer - Keith Thompson

Cinematography - Mark Wareham

Casting - Nikki Barrett

Editor - Scott Gray

Production Designer - Nelll Hanson

Costume Designer - Emily Seresin

Key Hair/Make Up - Chiara Tripodi

Composer - Martin Armiger

 

 
 

 

Other Facts

 

Film Particulars:

 

Rating: MA15+

Running Time: 105 mins

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Coming-of-Age

 

Release Dates:

 

USA (Sundance Film Festival) - 21st January 2007 - France (Cannes Film Market) - 16th May 2007 - Australia - 28th June 2007 - USA (Limited Release) - 4th July 2007 - UK (Cambridge Film Festival) - 11th July 2007 - USA - 3rd August 2007 - UK - 21st September 2007

(The film was released in America as "Introducing the Dwights")

 

Production Companies:

 

Essential Pictures - Essential Viewing Group - Film Finance - New South Wales Film & Television Office - R.B. Films

 

Distributors:

 

Palace Films (Australia, 2007, Theatrical) - Warner Independent Pictures (USA, 2007, Theatrical) - Warner Bros. (UK, 2007, Theatrical)

For more see here.

 

Budget and Box Office Takings:

 

Budget: Rumoured to be $5 million.

Box Office Takings: Reached a peak Gross Takings of $1,256,021

 

Awards (Wins and Nominations):

 

AFI's 2007:

Won:

Best Supporting Actress - Emma Booth

Nominated:

Best Cinematography - Mark Wareham

Best Costume Design - Emily Seresin

Best Direction - Cherie Nowlan

Best Editing - Scott Gray

Best Lead Actress - Brenda Blethyn

Best Production Design - Neil Hanson

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) - Keith Thompson

Best Sound - Andrew Neil, Ian McLoughlin, Liam Egan, Stephen Vaughan

Best Supporting Actor - Frankie J. Holden

Best Supporting Actor - Richard Wilson

For more awards see here.

 

Interviews:

 

Magaret Pomerantz interview with Cherie Nolan, Keith Thompson and Brenda Blethyn

http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1952236.htm

Keith Thompson: "This was a story that I wanted to tell. I wanted to tell a story about mothers and sons, because I think that's a - that's a particularly special relationship."

Sean Lynch interview with Khan Chittenden and Richard Wilson

http://www.webwombat.com.au/entertainment/movies/clubland-chittenden-wilson-interview.htm

Richard Wilson: "...So when a role comes along, something like Clubland, it was such a brilliant and challenging role that you only come across maybe once in an actors lifetime. I've been very fortunate, but you just can't afford to be picky in this country."

Luke Buckmaster interview with Cherie Nowlan

http://www.infilm.com.au/features/cherienowlan.html

"I've been obsessed with her (Blethyn) since Secrets and Lies," Nowlan says.  "Up until that point I thought no-one was greater than Meryl Streep, but she certainly gave her a shove sideways as far as I'm concerned."

There are more interviews available on the DVD.

 

Reviews:

 

Most reviews for this film are positive, and most are around the 3-4 star mark. However where the negativity seems to come in is the movie can be a bit bland in some places and Brenda Blethyn has a tendency to overact in parts. I'm not sure where I have seen these negative reviews (possibly the user comments on the IMDB website) so I can't attribute them but I'm sure if you searched 'Clubland review' you would find some negative reviews amongst the positive reception.

Sydney Morning Herald Review - Paul Byrnes

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/clubland/2007/06/22/1182019336929.html

"It's the kind of role Blethyn loves to play - working class, mouthy, a Valium short of hysterical but somehow indomitable."

The Age - Jake Wilson

http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/clubland/2007/06/28/1182624060299.html

"Given Tim's lack of sexual experience, his scenes with Jill generate a different kind of embarrassment, but their bracing tenderness shows the filmmakers at their best."

ABC Nightlife - Nicola Harrison

http://www.abc.net.au/nightlife/stories/s1963556.htm

"Brenda Blethyn is one of those actors who radiates warmth. Not actressey. Not pretentious. Not stagey – just real."

ABC At The Movies - David Stratton and Margaret Pomerantz

http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1962672.htm

"...we need films like this that - that do interface with audiences on a large scale and I'm sure that's going to happen with this. I think the characters are charming. I think Khan Chittenden is such a talent in this world."

More reviews can be found by searching for 'Cluband Film Reviews' on any good search engine.

 

Trailer

 

The trailer is available on the DVD and at the official website:

www.clublandthefilm.com

 

Online Presence:

 

Simply typing 'Clubland' into Google only brings up a couple of pages. It's necessary to type 'Clubland film', 'Clubland Review', or 'Introducing the Dwights' to bring up some more pages.

Film's Official Website:

www.clublandthefilm.com

Australian Screen entry for the film:

http://australianscreen.com.au/titles/clubland/

Press Kit available from Official Website:

http://www.clublandthefilm.com/Clubland_Press_Kit.pdf

Internet Movie Database entry:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0432264/

Introducing the Dwights (USA site):

http://wip.warnerbros.com/introducingthedwights/

 

Critical Review of the Plot

 

Clubland is the story of Jean Dwight and her son Tim. She also has a younger son Mark who has cerebal palsy and an ex-husband John Maitland. Jeanie is trying to make a comeback on the comedy circuit after she was a star in the UK but moved to Australia with John. She is a canteen cook by day and a comedienne by night playing the RSL clubs of Sydney. Her son Tim is her driver and they share a special bond as mother and son. Tim's father John is also staging his own comeback on the country music scene after he had a number one hit in 1975 for a full three weeks. With parents for entertainers its hardly suprising that shy and virginal Tim does not always have a smooth life.

When Tim meets sassy and fiery Jill, his world gets turned upside down (more so than usual), and he finds the two women he cares about most fighting for his love. His sexual awkwardness initially offends Jill but she soon learns to embrace him and his inexperiences. When Tim brings Jill home to meet his mother, sparks fly as a mother realises that the girl his son is besotted with is taking her little boy away. Tim's brother Mark provides some comic relief for the family and can be seen as the gel that keeps the family together in a key scene towards the end of the movie. The film is above all about love, both of a family and a sexual nature. With a final desperate plea from Tim, Jean accepts Jill into the fold with a family hug.

Clubland is a well rounded film with many things to offer at both ends of the target audience spectrum. This is what is unique about the script is that it is Jean's story but also Tim's story. The different threads through the story provide some awkward moments, some touching moments and some funny moments. From a young person's point of view, I really enjoyed Tim and Jill's story of sexual exploration because Tim's awkwardness reminds of the 'first time' for yourself. The coming of age story of the son leaving his mother's nest is all too familiar for many. The cinematography is naturalistic and does not over power the action, which could possibly be scene as a negative. All actors put in a fantastic job, in particular rising stars Khan Chittenden and Emma Booth, who for them is only a 2nd or 1st feature film. Brenda Blethyn is always amazing in my eyes but her character is a little grating for some in this film, particularly some of the stand-up scenes. Overall I enjoyed the film for the story and how it deals with accepting someone new into the family fold.

 

Critical Uptake of the Film

 

The film's critical uptake was mostly positive. The perfomances of Khan Chittenden and Emma Booth were seen as the highlights of the film, and further cemented them as the rising stars of Australian film. Most of the negative views that I came across in my research came from people's reaction to Brenda Blethyn's grating character and that every other element in this film was quite bland and not exciting. However, the film recieved 11 AFI award nominations, and won 1 - Best Supporting Actress going to Emma Booth. The film was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007 where it was recieved very well and picked up by Warner Independant Pictures for a US release. The film was released in Australia on 28th June 2007 at most small theatres and a few mainstream ones as well. Clubland, or Introducing the Dwights as it is known in the US, was the first Australian film in history to be released on the July 4th Independence Day Long Weekend, a landmark event. While I could not easily find box office figures, I would say the film was well recieved on an international scale, but more so in Australia because of it's Australian roots. This film is important as it creates another link between the Australian film industry and the rest of the world. The young leads (Khan Chittenden, Richard Wilson and Emma Booth) now have an abundance of oppurtunities ahead of them on the international film circuit.

 

Production and Release

 

(Provided by the Clubland Press Kit and the DVD extras)

The film was actually written in 1993 by writer Keith Thompson who always had Brenda Blethyn in mind for the the lead role, as he grew up not far from Brenda's hometown near Dover in the UK. Keith Thompson took the script to producer Rosemary Blight who had previously worked with Brenda Blethyn on In The Winter Dark. She confirmed that Brenda would be perfect as Jean Dwight. The film slowly began taking shape once Keith and Rosemary brought director Cherie Nowlan on board. Rosemary approached Brenda about 5 years before the film was made and she fell in love with the script and said "when do we start?" but the film had to get financed first before production could begin.

“I think each of us recognised the qualities in the script. It had heart and characters with life and emotional layers. I like making films that traverse dark emotional places but I wanted to make a film that delivered something back to the audience with joy. At the end of Clubland you come out of it feeling good.” - Rosemary Blight

The biggest challenge once financing was out of the way was to find a cast to mould and interact with Brenda. Emma Booth was the first to be cast.

“I think you have to cast every role on its own merit and try not to be too daunted by that prospect. Brenda’s skill level is so high I was shaking in my boots when we got her; wondering how we all could match that. I think my biggest concern was Jill because she really has to be a force to be reckoned with, but I was so lucky because Emma Booth was virtually the first person I tested. So right from the jump, this little force of nature appeared and she was the second person to be cast…and I spent that year worrying that she would be discovered and disappear to Hollywood before I got the chance to work with her. And indeed she did keep getting roles but strangely things kept falling over. Word spread very quickly that there was this new hot young actress around. She worked with me a lot during the recalls for the boys and I got to know her as a person and as an actor quite well so I got to be confident that, even though she was inexperienced, Brenda would find her interesting to work with…and luckily she did" - Cherie Nowlan

It took three years to find the right actor to play Tim, but eventually Khan Chittenden 'nailed his audition' and got the part. The rest of the cast was pulled in in time to start production.

The club sequences were very real and comedienne Jo Brand and Brenda herself co-wrote most of the material. Logistically with all the club scenes, the film was quite expensive to produce.

As mentioned above, the film was first viewed at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was bought by Warner Indepedant Pictures for a national US release. For more release info see the above section.

 

Prior Work of the Cast and Crew

 

Cherie Nowlan - TV - Small Claims, Secret Life of Us, Small Claims: White Wedding - Film - Thank God He Met Lizzie

Thank God He Met LIzzie was Cherlie Nowlan's first feautre film. It stared Cate Blanchett, Frances O'Connor and Richard Roxborough, so the standard of her previous work was of a high standard. Rosemary Blight and Keith Thompson knew her work from Small Claims and that's how she got involved in the project.

Keith Thompson - TV - Lockie Leonard, Battle of Long Tan, Homicide, Small Claims, Small Claims: White Wedding

Keith Thompson wrote the Clubland script in 1993. He knew of Rosemary Blight through Small Claims and that's how the two of them began the Clubland pre-production phase.

Rosemary Blight - TV - Lockie Leonard, Small Claims, Small Claims: White Wedding - Film - In The Winter Dark

Rosemary Blight managed to get Brenda Blethyn on board through Keith Thompson almost writing the script for Brenda whilst living near her home town, and having previously worked with her on In The Winter Dark.

Brenda Blethyn - Film - Secrets and Lies, In The Winter Dark, Little Voice, Lovely and Amazing, Pride and Prejudice

Brenda Blethyn is an Academy Award Nominee and a winner of BAFTA and Golden Globe awards. Director, Writer and Producer were surpised but excited that Brenda wanted to be a part of the film, but the biggest challenge was finding a cast to match her amazing presence on screen.

 

Clubland as an Australian Film

 

Clubland can be slated as an important film because of its success in the US. The film's humour is not quite as parochial as some other Australian films out there, ans so it could translate to a different audience. I would state that this film is a coming-of-age dramedy because of the different layers of story that intertwine - Jean the comedienne, Jean the mother, Tim the sexual inexperienced 21-year old, and Tim the young man who finally wants to leave the nest. The rite of passage of having sex for the first time and growing up and leaving home, is what makes this film a coming-of-age film. The locality of the film also makes it Australian. The small town RSL and Rotary Clubs are a very uniquely Australian thing. The dramedy - the mix of comedy and drama - come from the interactions with the characters and the different archetypes you see within them. John is your typical older man that wants to re-live his hayday because that is when he felt most accepted. Jean is an entertainer through and through and as a quote from the movie suggests, "nobody else matters as long as Jeanie Dwight is in the spotlight." She is bitter in her divorce from John because he brought her out to Australia as a nobody. Tim is shy because of his over-powering parents, but when he meets Jill, he starts to come out of his shell and no longer feels dominated by his mother. Tim's brother Mark causes some tension in the family when he runs away, but he is only doing what he think is best. This is seen when Mark calls everyone to the house after Jeanie says she's packing up and moving back to England. The ensemble cast provides a web of support for all characters and I don't believe there is one character not doing their job in the movie, but Brenda Blethyn does shine a little bit more than the rest, which is where some negative feedback has come from. I don't think the film would have the same poignancy had Brenda Blethyn not been cast, and had the film not been set in Australia, because the main catalyst for Jeanie's comeback is because she is a nobody in this country and wants to be the best.

 

References