It’s a reel fam­ily af­fair

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - DAR­REN CARTWRIGHT

DI­REC­TOR P. J. Ho­gan says his late fa­ther would ap­prove of the au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal movie Men­tal , de­spite it de­pict­ing him as a phi­lan­der­ing lo­cal coun­cil­lor in a dys­func­tional fam­ily unit.

Ho­gan said his fa­ther even­tu­ally felt like a hero af­ter Muriel’s Wed­ding be­came pop­u­lar and there­fore would have no qualms about his por­trayal by An­thony LaPaglia in his lat­est film.

Men­tal, just like Muriel’s Wed­ding, is based on Ho­gan’s fam­ily life.

It cen­tres on the men­tal is­sues of Shirley Moochmore, the fic­tional name of Ho­gan’s mother in the movie, played by Re­becca Gib­ney ( pic­tured with Ho­gan).

Com­ing to her aid is a babysit­ting, potsmok­ing hitch­hiker named Shaz ( played by Toni Col­lette) who Barry Moochmore picks up and brings home to look af­ter the fam­ily.

Ho­gan said this ac­tu­ally hap­pened in his life and he is still in contact with the real Shaz.

He said his fa­ther would have been pleased with ‘‘ his role’’ be­cause he gets to re­deem him­self and is seen in a some­what more favourable light than he was in Muriel’s Wed­ding.

‘‘ My dad saw Muriel’s Wed­ding sur­rounded by his mates and the only thing he said to me was ‘ that cut a bit close to the bone’,’’ Ho­gan said.

‘‘ Then when the film be­came a big hit he re­versed com­pletely and said ‘ I love that film, it to­tally vin­di­cates me’.

‘‘ It was like he’d in­vented a new film in his mind and you’d think he’d been fa­ther of the year. When I made Muriel’s Wed­ding that was a much harder por­trait of my dad than this one be­cause in Men­tal, Barry Moochmore re­deems him­self.’’

Hav­ing drained two fea­ture movies out of his fam­ily life, Ho­gan said there’s un­likely to be a third. How­ever, there is pos­si­bly one to be drawn from the real- life Shaz, who is a piv­otal char­ac­ter in Men­tal and has is­sues of her own.

He said she still pops up from time to time and there was one in­stance where Ho­gan and his wife, fel­low film­maker Jo­ce­lyn Moore­house, had to ask her to move out of their Mel­bourne home.

‘‘ The real Shaz was in and out of my life for 20 years and I think that if any­body wanted a se­quel for Men­tal I know ex­actly what Shaz goes on to do – she goes on to drive me crazy,’’ Ho­gan said.

‘‘ She showed up when I was liv­ing with Jo­ce­lyn in Mel­bourne and she needed a place to crash for a week.

‘‘ She stayed for six months and put six foot marijuana plants in our spare room . . . she said she was babysit­ting them.

‘‘ She could have had us all busted . . . she had to go, life with her was too in­tense.’’

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