Why Toni Collete Will Always Be the BrideApril 29, 2014

"When I lived in Porpoise Spit, I used to sit in my room for hours and listen to ABBA songs. But since I've met you and moved to Sydney, I haven't listened to one ABBA song. That's because my life is as good as an ABBA song. It's as good as Dancing Queen."

- Muriel Heslop

No matter how many movies Toni Collete have made, she would always be remembered as Muriel Heslop.

The native of Blacktown has many upcoming films this year, all of which are comedy. This isn't surprising, as she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for "United States of Tara". "Muriel's Wedding", another comedy, was her breakthrough, her performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (Comedy/Musical).

"I don't think I am entirely aware of it. I can tell it still resonates on a certain level because people quote lines to me, and continue to want to talk about it. It's incredible, really. It's been twenty years since I made it. For it to have such a long-lasting effect is amazing, amazing! Working in film and being an actor is kind of a self-serving thing - I absolutely love it, but you also want people to see your work and be a part of the story, to take it in, and like it. To have it spanning decades is quite something," she said of the film's cult status.

Everyone can relate to Muriel Heslop, awkward, naïve, and overweight. This young lady can't count on her family and mates for (emotional) support, so she listens to ABBA songs. For a minute or two, she thinks she's special, while "Dancing Queen" is playing. Then Rhonda comes unexpectedly. Muriel knows her way back, whose carefree, hedonistic personality is what Muriel needs to turn her life around.

The film clicked because it was down to earth. Not many can't have that wedding that Muriel had, though. It was the movie's highlight, where she looked more like a reality TV star than someone who was about to experience the happiest moment in her life. But you can't blame Muriel, who came from the coastal town of Porpoise Spit, where there weren't too many happenings. Not in Sydney, where she lived with Rhonda, always thinking of that dream wedding of hers.

P.J. Hogan, director and writer, penned a feminist picture. It was hard to tell if he intended it, but it worked. Muriel was insecure, but she learned that it was fine to have some insecurities. She thought that matrimony would change people's perception of her, but she found out that walking down the aisle was not a "they live happily ever after" moment. The ending was uncertain, where moviegoers have no idea what would happen next to Muriel. Welcome to the University of Life.

"Muriel's Wedding" became a trendsetter, as there were more films on women who were funny - and real.

"Just feeling real in any way, whether it's awkward or not, because like it or not, art is a reflection of us, and how we chose to live, and that is fantastic. Now, the media has other agendas: It's not about reflecting humanity, it's about dictatorship and being dogmatic in telling people how to dress, how to look, what to say, what to do with your life, how to spend your time, everything," she said.

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