Housewife Elspeth Dickens is the sole carer for two young and mischievous twin boys. Her Husband, James, is away from home for large stretches of time, leaving Elspeth miserable and alone, isolated in a lonely Tasmanian country home, Elspeth dreams of brighter days and busies her creative mind with “Sink Songs” musical performances in her kitchen which she transmits via web-cam to the big wide world. When she is offered a job as the iconic female image for a new computer called “The Goddess” she is whisked away to Sydney and offered a global position with the company. However by chasing her dreams, Elspeth slowly realizes that she risks losing her family in the process.
There was a buzz of excitement at the premiere for this film. The red carpet was adorned with Goddess themed costumes, actors were clothed in dresses made of dish-washing gloves, a kitchen sink set-up positioned next to the paparazzi pit streamed a live feed of the red carpet on a small LCD screen “window” and buskers sang songs to punters as they walked down the carpet, styling the lyrics on-the-spot based on their dresses or outfits. The anticipation was palpable – after the hype that The Sapphires received last year, could this film be our next big Aussie thing? The cast, writer and director of the film greeted us with short speeches prior to the screening, goodie bags on our seat were filled with rubber gloves, coconut lip balm and a few tasty treats. The dress code for the evening was “feel good” – we were in the right mood for a great time.
The musical numbers in Goddess are vibrant, colorful and fun. The songs are cleverly written with some cute themes within them. Backup dances are tightly choreographed with playful camera work to accentuate the style of the scenes. Magda Szubanski’s (Babe, Kath and Kim, Full Frontal) solo song as advertising executive Cassandra Wolfe absolutely steals the show – in fact, Magda steals the show altogether as the uptight alpha corporate bitch in charge of whisking Elspeth away to a whole new world of fame and fortune.
Ronan Keating of X-Factor and Eastenders fame, the crooner of the hit single “When you say nothing at all” plays James Dickens. James is Elspeth’s husband who spends months at a time away at sea listening to whale’s songs, charting their progress through the arctic waters and concerning himself more with global warming than his own wife’s general malaise at home.
Elspeth Dickens is played by Laura Michelle Kelly who is more renowned as playing Mary Poppins in West End theaters than for her onscreen work in films such as 2007’s “Sweeney Todd”. Kelly’s beautiful singing voice, cheeky facials and fun choreography help to make her character warm and endearing.
The script in itself is unoffensive, no overt sex scenes, no brash humor, nothing more risque than the odd poo pun. However, Elspeth comes across as slightly spineless in her inability to negotiate the terms for her own happiness. It is rather clunkily established that Elspeth had previously agreed to be the sole carer of the twins for their first five years, after which point they will attend school and it becomes her husband’s turn to raise them. Husband James is at sea for months at a time and often un-contactable, leaving Elspeth lonely and alone, searching for some small semblance of warmth amongst a shallow community of smarmy housewives. When she raises her concerns with her husband, she is merely reminded of the agreement that she made and off he goes once more to another six week journey at sea.
When the same situation is reversed and Elspeth is required to take time away from home to film TV commercials, James is grumpy at the situation of having to raise the twin boys without his wife there to help him. Suddenly James now appears hypocritical and selfish. The storyline makes it seem that he is not happy that Elspeth is following her dreams, instead he is put-out at his having to pitch in and take part in raising the boys.
It’s a shame, because I really don’t believe this was the intention of the script writers, but the premise of the couple’s child-raising agreement was just too thin and the chauvinistic undertones of the situation became more apparent than i’m sure was intended or even realized. It’s unfortunate, but the message of the film comes across as “Dream as much as you want, but if your husband disagrees with you, give up your goals, come home and hope he forgives you and comes back to you”. It’s a shame; if the script had gone through a couple more re-writes I think it would have been an absolute cracker of a film. I really wanted this one to be a knockout, it had so much potential but it just falls short.
I think this film will do well with the “Mums and Bubs” type of crowd. Its main flaws were with its script but if you can look past that its a fun, unobtrusive little flick. The actors did well with the script they had, and the songs are some toe tapping fun. It’s no “Sapphires” but you should support your local industry and give it a go.
Goddess is rated PG and releases nationally on the 14th of March.
I rate it six out of ten pink rubber gloves.