The West

PJ Hogan s Mental to close MIFF
Toni Collette. Picture: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.

Muriel's Wedding writer-director PJ Hogan will reunite with his leading lady Toni Collette in Mental, the closing night film for this year's Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).

MIFF Artistic Director Michelle Carey says that with The Sapphires making its Australian premiere on opening night, hot off its screening at Cannes, it means two major Aussie films book-end the festival.

"What films they are too," she says. "They're so good. I can't believe it actually. Feel quite blessed."

Carey says it's always nice to launch an Australian film through MIFF and they try and identify any that fit the bill.

In Mental, Shirley Moochmore (Rebecca Gibney) suffers a nervous breakdown and is committed to a mental hospital by her philandering politician husband, Barry (Anthony LaPaglia).

Left with their five teenage daughters, he picks up a hitchhiker named Shaz (Collette) and takes her on as a nanny.

Carey says she found Mental incredibly rewarding and funny.

"It really is laugh-out-loud guffaws and it's very clever," she says, adding that it's also quite moving.

"The whole premise of the film, I guess, is about how society deals with mental illness or perception of mental illness and how people can self-diagnose."

Carey, who studied psychology at university, found it fascinating.

For Muriel's Wedding fans, she says there are some similarities.

"(Collette) plays a very, very different character (but) it's certainly got darkness in there, which Muriel's Wedding did have as well," she says.

"He (PJ Hogan) is just such a great observer of Australian suburban society."

As for the program, Carey thinks there's a bit more laughter and comedy this year, with films like Melbourne director Boyd Hicklin's debut feature, Save Your Legs!, and French buddy comedy The Intouchables, which makes its Australian premiere.

This year also features the biggest selection of films straight from Cannes Film Festival.

Carey says the timing of MIFF means they can snap up brand new films from Cannes.

"It's a lot of work, because we finish up the program only a matter of weeks after Cannes finishes, so (it's) incredibly touch and go in terms of getting them," she says.

"But this year I was amazed at how many we got. It was fantastic."

More than 35 films from Cannes are included in this year's Festival line-up, including Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winning Amour, Benh Zeitlin's Camera d'Or winner Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Wes Anderson's Moonlight Kingdom.

Aussies will also get to see Kylie Minogue in Leos Carax's Holy Motors, which also features Denis Lavant and Eva Mendes.

"I've heard her (Minogue's) family want to, they'll be there," Carey says.

"It's a role she's very very proud of and she's really great in it."

Melbourne International Film Festival runs August 2-19. The full program will go live at on Wednesday, July 11 at 11am. Tickets for the full program go on sale on Friday, July 13.

The West Australian

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