Mental – what is normal anyway?

There are two great movies out this month that are poignant and a great laugh, both challenging what is “normal” and “acceptable” behaviour. PJ Hogan’s Mental is a brilliant comedy about a family in crisis and a hitch-hiker who thinks destiny brought them together for her own reasons. Challenging the stigma of mental health, how we see ourselves and compare ourselves to others doesn’t sound funny, but in the hands of PJ Hogan (Murial’s Wedding) it surely is. It was even more poignant hearing that it was based on his own family and upbringing in Queensland/Tweed Heads in the 1980s – something I can relate well to.

The TV shorts don’t do it justice. The cast is impressive – Toni Collette, Rebecca Gibney, Anthony La Paglia – many of whom contacted PJ to get the roles despite the low budget.

The French film, The Intouchables, brings together a quadraplegic millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and an unemployed ex-con (Omar Sy), who becomes his carer. It is a touching tale of trust, friendship and acceptance with comic disregard for “acceptable” behaviour. Don’t let the subtitles put you off this one – it has had justifiably huge success overseas – nine weeks at number 1 in Germany, second-highest grossing film in French box office history.

It is also based on a true story – which adds to the honesty and humour between the two individuals who, on the surface, would seem worlds apart.

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