Often when people talk about the Australian cinema industry they will pull out the old line “oh we make great cult films.” Well as an industry I have to say we do more than just that. We also make some pretty intense dramas and we’ve made some classic comedies over the years as well. Actually when I really think about it we have made some brilliant comedies over the years – films like The Castle, Crocodile Dundee and Crackerjack that have all become classics and could only have been created with that unique Australian sense of humour.
That tradition of good Australia comedy continues with brand new film How To Please A Woman – a film that sees director/screenwriter Renee Webster (The Heights) deliver a film I found to mix just the right amount of comedy and drama.
The film centres around Gina (Sally Phillips – Bridget Jones’s Diary) a middle-aged woman who finds herself stuck in a sexless marriage with her husband, Adrian (Cameron Daddo – Hope Island), and fired from her job which she excels at.
Her friends from the local swimming club decide to spice things up for her on her birthday and hire her a male giggalo, Tom (Alexander England – Gods Of Egypt). However, when the awkward Gina decides that she doesn’t want to have sex with him but would love for to clean her house an idea forms in her mind. Then when she discovers that Tom works for a removalist company that is about to close down she suddenly comes up with an idea for a new business where she would hire Tom and his colleagues Steve (Erik Thomson – Somersault), Anthony (Ryan Johnson – Son Of The Mask) and Ben (Josh Thomson – The New Legends Of Monkey).
What I found I enjoyed most about this film was that Webster found the perfect tone for the film. Yes at the heart of this film is a comedy but also the more dramatic elements of the film explore a lot of topics that are often taboos to be talked about in society. The film explores middle-aged women wanting to have sex in a tasteful way, it also looks at women being fired from their jobs because of their age and also what happens when a long-lasting marriage starts to fizzle out.
Male audience members also shouldn’t feel like they are going to be left out while watching the film. Through the character of Steve it explores the depression that can sink in when a middle-aged man loses both his marriage and his business and it respectfully looks at how many men have no idea how to pleasure a woman when it comes to sex (through no fault of their own) and the looming cloud of unemployment in modern society.
One part I especially loved is the fact that the film also doesn’t make Gina out to be a flawless character, in fact there is one touching storyline that sees Gina judge one of her colleagues and why she isn’t one of the ones losing her job only too later find out not only has she body-shamed the women but also judged her intelligence and worth because of her looks.
I hope though what I have said here makes you feel that How To Please A Woman is a film that will bog you down with serious tones because that simply isn’t the case. There are a lot of comedic moments to be found throughout the film but Webster is a gifted enough filmmaker to fit them in amongst the film’s message in a well-written and subtle manner.
When it comes to the acting side of things Sally Phillips and Erik Thomson steal the show. Phillips matches the tone of the film well knowing the right time to deliver comedy and really delivering when she is called to act out the more dramatic moments of the film. Erik Thomson also delivers a solid performance alongside Phillips while Alexander England is almost guaranteed to land some Hollywood work off the back of this film.
How To Please A Woman is a pleasurable drama-comedy that reveals a new talent in Australia’s filmmaking alumni with the arrival of Renee Webster in a big way. Thoroughly delightful from start to finish with a really important message at its core.