A slight film, but its nicely realised characters and some great performances make it an engaging one.
The Aussies long ago cornered the market in quirky ensemble dramas, but the indie comedy Clubland (also known as Introducing the Dwights) has a little less quirk and a little more heart than most. Brenda Blethyn stars as Jean Dwight, a brassy, past-her-prime comedienne who works as a cook in a Sydney canteen and dreams of recapturing the star status she once enjoyed in her native Britain. She lives with her two sons, the handsome but introverted Tim (a sweet Khan Chittenden), who drives her around to gigs and serves as a test audience for her bawdy zingers, and the mentally disabled Mark, who is almost as quick with a one-liner as his mother. The divorced Jean keeps a tight rein on her boys, so for her it's no joke when, just as it looks as though she may be getting her big break, Tim falls in love with a beautiful, slightly hysterical blonde named Jill (Emma Booth). The overbearing matriarch can feel the hold she has on her family slipping away, and it pushes her to the brink of a breakdown. Blethyn piles on the theatrics in her portrayal of Jean, which is grating at times but appropriate for the boisterous character. She is the loving heart and soul of her family, yet you can see why her poor son might be itching to leave the nest. Clubland is a slight film, but its nicely realised characters and some great performances make it an engaging one.