Brenda Stars

INTRODUCING THE DWIGHTS
Running time 105 minutes
Written by Keith Thompson
Directed by Cherie Nowlan
Starring Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Richard Wilson

“Family hold back” is a saying around the holiday table when it looks like the food’s running out that means save some for the guests. It’s a sweet thought Brenda Blethyn has never heard of. In her films, everyone else is a guest, and she holds nothing back. In the Australian film Introducing the Dwights, she plays Jean, another bawdy, vulgar, loudmouth mother like the one she played in Little Voice. This time she’s a has-been comedienne trying to raise two teenage sons—a tender boy named Mark who was brain-damaged at birth, and a shy hunk with raging hormones named Tim who is understandably embarrassed by a mother who is little more than a drunk. Jean juggles jobs as a short-order cook and singing coach to make ends meet while she tries to rebuild a career that was prematurely shelved when her sons were born. Sometimes the boys encounter their dad, a faded singer who had a hit record for three weeks in 1975 but now works as a security guard to finance a “comeback” CD of Conway Twitty songs he recorded with his own money. While the boys come of age with a maximum of growing pains, the mother rehearses, the music blares, the liquor flows, and home is the front trench in a show-business war zone. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but nothing funny ever happens and everyone yells a lot. Nothing remarkable here, but the overworked Ms. Blethyn gives a heartfelt performance as a conflicted loser whose ship sailed years ago, and as the sons, Khan Chittenden and Richard Wilson are totally sympathetic tugboats, pulling her back to dry dock.

Brenda Stars