Often when people talk about the Australian cinema industry, they will pull out the old line “Oh we make great cult films”. 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 Australian comedy continues with brand new film How To Please A Woman – a film that sees director and screenwriter Renee Webster deliver a film I found to mix just the right amount of comedy and drama.
The film centres around Gina (Sally Phillips) a middle-aged woman who finds herself stuck in a sexless marriage with her husband, Adrian (Cameron Daddo), 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). However, when the awkward Gina decides that she doesn’t want to have sex with him but would love for him to clean her house, an idea forms in her mind. When she discovers that Tom works for a removalist company that is about to close down, she comes up with an idea for a new business where she would hire Tom and his colleagues Steve (Erik Thomson), Anthony (Ryan Johnson) and Ben (Josh Thomson).
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 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 How To Please A Woman. Through the character of Steve, the film explores the depression that can sink in when a middle-aged man loses both his marriage and his business. It also 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 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 that not only has she body-shamed the woman, but also judged her intelligence and worth because of her looks.
How To Please A Woman contains a lot of comedic moments despite these serious topics, and 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. Thomson also provides 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. How To Please A Woman is thoroughly delightful from start to finish, with a really important message at its core.