Two months ago, I saw Toni Collette tear up the screen as a grieving mother who sees supernatural forces preying on her family in Hereditary. Then this week, she’s in Hearts Beat Loud, where she comes a distant fourth behind Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, and Sasha Lane. (Depending on how much Jeff Tweedy’s cameo role late in the film matters to you, she might be fifth.) With that in mind, I thought I’d look back over a career that has dazzled and frustrated me.
The Sydney native is 45 years old, having been born with the surname of Collett and later adding the “e” on the end of it. In only her second film appearance, she gained worldwide attention for Muriel’s Wedding. She gained 40 pounds to play the title role, a social misfit from a northern Australian hick town called Porpoise Spit. (“Spit” in this case means “point of land projecting into the sea” rather than “saliva,” but the movie still makes the point that the town is crap.) Muriel thinks that marrying a man will be her ultimate source of bliss, but the real person she falls in love with is Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths), her one friend from Porpoise Spit who believes in her, shares her love of ABBA songs, and moves to Sydney with her to live it up. Muriel’s Wedding was part of an influx of Australian movies in the mid-1990s (along with Strictly Ballroom and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) that charmed English-speaking audiences with their unabashed eccentricity and romanticism. It also had this famous scene: