banner image

:: Mullet

A mullet, we are told in the first scene of this film, is a useless fish, no good for anything. And sure enough a character arrives in town, nicknamed Mullet, and is no good for anything.

David Caesar’s follow up to “Idiot Box” is a look at a family in a country town and the upheaval the return of the prodigal son Eddie, “Mullet”, causes. Played by Ben Mendelsohn, in a welcome return to the big screen, Eddie disappeared from town three years ago without any explanation to his girlfriend Tully, played by Susie Porter. She has since married his inarticulate brother and mostly moved on with her life.

Much of the film is spent asking Eddie why he returned to town and whether he’s going to take off with his brother’s wife, all questions Eddie avoids answering. He rejoins the local football team, coached by his father, hangs out at the pub and goes fishing, as the rest of the town make their own decisions about him. Pretty soon they all decide they want him out. He always thought he was too good for them and apparently still does.

The characters are all ‘true blue Aussie’; a father who is proud of his new flushing dunny, and mates who’ll buy each other beers at the pub. It seems that Caesar is so eager to prove that he’s one of ‘us’; he declines to show us anything new or different. He even recycles the old fish have a short memory line, which for those of us who aren’t fish, is overly familiar. There are however some terrific one-liners, particularly from Eddie’s parents. That dry wit that only seems to work in this country.

The habit of Australian film makers to write films with a recessive male lead who can’t take any action or express any emotion, is really starting to wear thin. It’s tempting to excuse it by saying that people are actually like that in real life. But if we wanted real life, we wouldn’t be in a cinema; we’d be out in real life. Hitchcock once said film is life with all the boring bits cut out. There’s a reason for that.

So whilst the performances are good, particularly Mendelsohn, and the music is quite effective, nothing much happens in these ninety minutes. It’s basically a rather pretty kitchen sink drama that could have played just as well as a week’s worth of Neighbours.