film review: goddess
Welcome to my kitchen sink. This is where full potential has failed to reach.
Young mother Elspeth Dickens (Laura Michelle Kelly), a British immigrant, is isolated at her Tasmanian homestead with her twin sons while her whale saving husband, Jimmy (Ronan Keating), works away for long periods of time. To keep connected, Jimmy gives Elspeth a video camera, but Jimmy fails to connect. Elspeth, bored and craving attention, decides to cure her ailment by broadcasting her musical performances from her kitchen sink live on the internet. In comes Cassandra Wolfe (Madga Szubanski), an advertising agency powerhouse who sweeps up Elspeth’s internet success for a campaign. Wolfe transforms Elspeth from a simple stay-at-home mum into a domestic goddess, taking her on a journey to a world far from her own. Of course, Elspeth’s movie star lookalike husband has reservations about her adventures and she is faced with a difficult decision to make.
The script of Goddess was adapted from co-writer, Joanna Weinberg’s one-person show Sinksongs, which tells of her own experiences as a stay-at-home mum. Director Mark Lamprell (My Mother Frank) collaborated with Weinberg in writing the script.
Lamprell has appropriately channelled the aesthetic feel from the 1998 film, Babe: Pig in the City, which he co-wrote. The warm, bright coloured, feel-good mood is felt throughout, so much that when Elspeth’s life begins to fall apart you cannot summon anything more than a sympathetic sigh; the cosy atmosphere won’t let you.
“I need somebody that embodies today’s woman,” says Szubanski’s character in a flag raising moment, reminding audiences they are watching a typical, and at times cringe worthy musical comedy that is not the least bit ashamed of flaunting its clichés.
Kelly and Keating face no challenges when it comes to belting out a musical number or a love ballad, but they appear unrealistic in their roles. Kelly’s casting as a stay-at-home mum fools you into thinking food goddess Nigella Lawson had launched a new cooking show featuring musical outbursts in between the domestic duties of life.
Keating ticks all the boxes for the 30-something-year-old young mum audience. Giggles will be sure to erupt through the cinema when Keating reveals his flesh. His part in the film is a major audience drawcard, but it feels like he has just been slapped onto the credits. He appears to have stepped straight off the set of X Factor and begun pre-dress rehearsals as the whale saving conservationist, Jimmy Dickens. The costumes look as though they have been selected straight out of the wardrobe of Ronan Keating the singer, rather than Jimmy Dickens the whale saver.
Szubanski’s character, Cassandra Wolfe, is underdeveloped and channels the stereotypical corporate highflier who constantly mentions ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ – the writers’ (failed) way of injecting some sort of ideological balance into the script. Szubanski’s comedic talent was ignored, leaving you with only a few comical eyebrow manoeuvres and secret binge eating scenes to chuckle at.
Familiar faces of Australian television, film and theatre appear in the movie, with Pia Miranda (Looking for Alibrandi), Dustin Claire (McLeod’s Daughters), Hugo Johnstone-Burt (Underbelly: The Golden Mile) and Lucy Durack (Wicked) appearing in supporting roles. Natalie Tran, Australia’s most subscribed YouTube user, also makes an intriguing appearance as one of the young mums. Tran lived her own Elspeth Dickens story, rising to fame through her internet videos on her YouTube channel in early 2007.
Although Goddess suffers from a number of shortcomings in casting and character development, it provides a light hearted, feel-good laugh that can be shared with the kiddies. If you manage to keep your musical related winces to a minimum, you’re sure to leave with a grin on your face and that tune stuck in your head.
By Tanya McGovern