6 June 2001 | awalter1
A very good Aussie comedy... that could have been great.
Cat is part of a team of Anthony Robbins style, personal-empowerment seminar speakers. The team--led by the charismatic young guru Nat Wolf, who is also Cat's boyfriend--is about to launch a large seminar in Sydney, Australia. Cat, however, receives news that her estranged mother, Katya, has died of cancer. She returns to familiar settings and painful memories only to have her mother's ghost begin to pester her. The lovely Katya--who has chosen to appear in the body she had when she was 36--was never much of a mother, but she does know how to liven up a party. Cat must make peace quickly or be driven loopy by her mother's relentless antics.
"WillFull" is a playful film that focuses on its vivid characters and their relationships. The superb cast is led by Anna Lise Phillips as Cat and Anne Looby as the incorrigible ghost of Katya. Rebel Penfold-Russell (who also produced "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert") directs with an eye for color and exuberance. Much of the film's comedy comes from the ghost's interaction with Cat at inappropriate moments--an old gag, but Penfold-Russell keeps the laughs fresh throughout.
There is, however, one significant flaw. After taking us into some unexpectedly deep emotional territory with Cat, the film's ending resorts to cheap psychological scapegoating to provide the main characters with what can only be a superficial catharsis. Thus the story comes off feeling synthetic and disposable, rather than becoming the genuine and endurable thing it could have been.