The legendary English comedienne Jean Dwight (Brenda Blethyn), is working in a canteen these days between small-time gigs; her ex, John (Frankie J. Holden) is also a 'was' in showbiz, now a security guard with a vanity CD on the way. Their son Mark (Richard Wilson) is disabled and dependent, but young Tim (Khan Chittenden), still a virgin at 21, has just met a girl, Jill (Emma Booth) and this threatens to break Jean's hold on the chaotic family. Jean employs every trick in the book to safeguard the future of her family, leaving Tim torn between two passionate women intent on fighting it out in the war for his affections.
Review by Louise Keller:
'My mum and dad - they're entertainers,' confesses Tim (Khan Chittenden) to Jill (Emma Booth) after a night of intimacy. It is only now that he has plucked up enough courage to tell her - because he knows that his parents are 'different'. Set against a backdrop of Sydney's club scene, Clubland centers on the changing relationship between a controlling mother and her son who is blossoming under the influence of first love. Anchored by a strong performance by Brenda Blethyn as the loud, crass club entertainer angry at the world for having robbed her of her fame and success, Cherie Nowlan's down-to-earth comedic drama and coming of age story is funny and poignant, all the while capturing the essence of the environment in which it is set.
Blethyn's Jean is a real trouper. She lives and breathes show business. Her day starts at 5am, as she heads to her job in the canteen. Then there are the singing lessons, the kids she entertains at the disability centre, and on the stage of the local club, beyond the poker machines, where she milks the crowd with suggestive patter and practised expertise. Writer Keith Thompson colours the characters and situations with truth, and anyone who recognises the essence of a club performer, will relate to Jean. Khan Chittenden and Emma Booth as Jean's son Tim and his new girlfriend Jill give compelling performances; their relationship begins awkwardly and blossoms unexpectedly, while having to cope with Jean's demands. Veteran entertainer Frankie J. Holden is well oiled as Jean's ex husband John, who still thrives on the applause of his only CD single from many years ago, but the role of Mark, Jean's disabled younger son (ably played by Richard Wilson) is badly misjudged.
At the heart of the story is Tim's coming of age, as he discovers love and manages to prise himself away from the clutches of his well-meaning but demanding mother. An impromptu get together with his father in Coles' car-park in the middle of the night, ice-skating for fun, taking Jill home for the first time, and ringing home to tell Mum he is going to sleep over are just some of the instances that make up the every day. Like a good club act, the film heads towards a big finale, when reconciliations manifest over bacon and scrambled eggs. The rule of comedy is to 'make 'em like you', which we do, wholeheartedly.
There are cast and crew interviews on the DVD, together with deleted scenes.
Published November 29, 2007
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CLUBLAND: DVD (MA)
CAST: Brenda Blethyn, Emma Booth, Khan Chittenden, Frankie J. Holden, Philip Quast, Richard Wilson, Peter Callan, Rebecca Gibney, Katie Wall,
PRODUCER: Rosemary Blight
DIRECTOR: Cherie Nowlan
SCRIPT: Keith Thompson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Wareham
EDITOR: Scott Gray
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nell Hanson
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 17, 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/crew interviews; deleted scenes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures; Re-release by Madman
DVD RELEASE: November 28, 2007; re-release: May 4, 2011