Directed by Cherie Nowlan (2007)
In this house, letting go is never easy.”

MCC 231 Assignment # 2
by Becky Wilson


Part 1
Film Information

Key Cast and Crew
From: Byrge, Duane. "Clubland." Hollywood Reporter



Jean: Brenda Blethyn
Tim: Khan Chittenden
Jill: Emma Booth
Mark: Richard Wilson
John: Frankie J. Holden
Lana: Rebecca Gibney
Ronnie: Philip Quast
Kelly: Katie Wall
Shane: Russell Dykstra


Producer: Rosemary Blight
Director: Cherie Nowlan
Screenwriter: Keith Thompson
Executive producer: Tristan Whalley
Director of photography: Mark Wareham
Production designer: Nell Hanson
Music: Martin Armiger
Editor: Scott Gray
Costume designer: Emily Seresin

Film Finance Corp. Australia

Running time -- 108 minutes

Release Info

Sundance Film Festival: 21 January, 2007
Cannes Film Market: 16 May 2007
Australia Release: June 28, 2007
USA Release (under the name Introducing the Dwights): July 4, 2007


Interviews with Director Cherie Nowlan

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01
In Film Website

Urban Cine File Website

ABC website: At the Movies—video interview


Interview with Producer Rosemary Blight


Centre for Screen Business


More Interviews

Popcorn Reel website—video interview with director Cherie Nowlan and main actress Brenda Blethyn

Coming Soon website—interview with director Cherie Nowlan and main actress Brenda Blethyn

Interview with Wilson and Chittenden



Bibliography of Reviews

Plenty of journal articles on Clubland can be found through databases dedicated to films, such as Film Indexes Online, Film Index International and FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals (as well as general databases such as Factiva). Below are some of the articles that can be accessed through these databases as well as additional reviews that can be found online.

Byrge, Duane. "Clubland." Hollywood Reporter 15 Mar. 2007. Factiva. Murdoch University Library. 10 Apr. 2008. review

Smith, Anna. "Clubland." Sight and Sound XVII (2007).

Variety article
Zeitchik, Steven. "Sundance Soph 'Starting' Over." Variety CDV (2007).
Movie Fix review



Online Presence
            Since Clubland is a relatively new movie, appeared at international film festivals and was released in multiple countries, it is not too difficult to find information about the movie, reviews on the film and interviews with the actors.  Whether it is online databases or websites, the presence of the movie online is decent.  Below are some important links as well as additional websites with interviews and more information on the movie.

Official Film Website

American Release Official Website

Press Kit from official website

Production Notes


Interview with actress Emma Booth,21598,22016134-5013075,00.html





Part 2
Film Review and Literature
Synopsis and Critical Review
            In Clubland, also called Introducing the Dwights, Brenda Blethyn plays comedic performer and overbearing mother of two, Jeannie Dwight.  Jean, who is struggling to bring back the glory days of her incipient performing career in England 25 years prior, also works odd jobs to support her family.  Now divorced from Australian one-hit-wonder John (Frankie J. Holden), Jean is extremely protective of young adult sons Mark (Richard Wilson), who has been brain damaged since birth, and Tim (Khan Chittenden).  The action is set into motion when Jean’s shy 20-something son Tim begins dating the beautiful and bold Jill (Emma Booth).  Feeling threatened and afraid of “losing” her son, Jean attempts to break the two up, going to greater extents as it becomes more clear that Tim and Jill are becoming closer. 
The storyline follows the evolving relationship (sexual and otherwise) of the two young people as well as Jean’s changing character revolving around her relationship with her sons.  Jean’s initial actions range from calling Tim constantly to being outright rude to Jill.  Jill won’t be deterred by Jean’s unreasonable mother hen actions, and Jean starts to pull outrageous stunts in her endeavor to keep her son to herself.  When Tim finally starts sticking up for himself and for Jill, Jean drunkenly throws both her sons, Jill and Jill’s friend out of the house.  As a result of the upset balance in her odd relationship with her sons, Jean is forced to address and come to terms with her insecurities and regrets about her life, career and failed marriage.
The movie arguably has more than one plot climax, but a major one involves a scene at the house where Jean decides that she is leaving to go home to England while friends and family come to try to talk her out of her stubborn state.  The end of the movie is a happy one, the final scene being Jill and Tim’s wedding, at which Jean makes a speech praising Jill and finishing with a musical performance from John and Jean.
The film attempts to mix in some comedy (in the form of Mark’s character and by Jean’s raunchy routines and outspoken character), but although these elements serve to move the film along at a quicker pace, Mark’s unrealistic demeanor and the sharp personality changes and ridiculous actions from Jean border on unrealistic.  
All in all, the film has its touching moments and is a good example of a coming of age film as well as dynamic family relations.
Critical Uptake
There were some mixed reviews on certain aspects of Clubland, but in general it was fairly well received.  The official Clubland website cites many critics giving the movie four stars, including ones writing for Empire, Who, and the Sydney Morning Herald. 
The film received 17 nominations and two wins, both for supporting actress Emma Booth.   Of the critics, regardless of whether they were positive or negative about the film overall, many of them comment upon Mark’s character in an unsatisfactory light.
Says Anna Smith of Sight and Sound:
“A few of the male characters border on caricature, mostly notably Mark, who doesn't appear convincingly mentally disabled. He constantly delivers knowing comments that belie his condition, and while the attempt to subvert prejudice is admirable, the joke wears thin and the actor inside shows through.”
There are however, a number of satisfactory reviews on the film, and the beloved Brenda Blethyn is often praised for her performance.

Production and Release Details
Production Notes:

            Keith Thompson wrote the script of Clubland for fellow Brit Brenda Blethyn to play the role of Jean Dwight.  He has said that the script was largely based upon his experience as a performer’s son (his mother was in a dance band in England). 
Producer Rosemary Blight agreed immediately that Blethyn would be perfect for the role and agreed to produce when Thompson presented the script to her.  Blight had worked with Blethyn previously, and describes jumping at the chance to do so again. The script was first read by Blight in 1993 and the movie finished in 2007.  Finding actors talented enough to match the skill of seasoned and acclaimed actress Blethyn took time, as the two describe years of searching for the perfect actors to fill the roles.  But first the two had to decide upon a director, seeking out Cherie Nowlan for her skill with working with actors.
The film’s release in Australia happened in June 2007, followed soon by the release in the U.S. (under the name “Introducing the Dwights”) on American Independence Day.

International Recognition and Position of Australian Film
Before debuting in Australia, Clubland was shown at the Sundance Film Festival as well as the Cannes Film Market and the Cambridge Film Festival.   Says Paul Fischer, an on-site critic reporting on the Sundance Film Festival, “A boisterous, irreverent and visually striking Australian film, Clubland is a truly special piece of cinema that is destined for commercial longevity, both in its native Australia and the world.”
The film won two awards: one from the Film Critics Circle of Australian Awards (FCCAA) for Emma Booth’s best supporting actress role and another from the Australian Film Institute (AFI) for the same category. 
In the U.S., the movie box office grossed $376,311 USD.   The film got a fair amount of coverage/acceptance and appeared in many international film festivals.  Its acclaim is a very good sign for the Australian film market and its mix of humor and family issues strikes a charming chord with film watchers in other countries as well as Australia.

Clubland and Genre
This film has many facets, including coming of age.  Tim’s relationship with  Jill shows him that he needs to stand up to his mother’s overbearing and controlling demeanor, while Jill learns patience.  Their love is young and innocent but they also deal with issues revolving around Jean. 
Through the changing relationship of Jean and her sons, Jean finally is able to be more happy with herself instead of living in the past and clinging on to her golden days back in England.  The bitterness is eased and Jill is the one who brings about the much needed change. 






Byrge, Duane. "Clubland." Hollywood Reporter 15 Mar. 2007. Factiva. Murdoch University Library. 10 Apr. 2008.

The Daily Telegraph Review.; and Smith, Anna. "Clubland." Sight and Sound XVII (2007).

Smith, Anna. "Clubland." Sight and Sound XVII (2007).