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Movie review of Me Myself I

From Australian filmmakers, we've come to expect the quirky, offbeat and slightly skewed vision.

That's why "Me Myself I" is such a surprise and departure. The romantic comedy comes as close to a Hollywood film as we've seen exported from Down Under.

But if it's formulaic, film editor Pip Karmel's directorial debut enjoys a mighty classy weapon.

Rachel Griffiths is the Aussie's up-and-coming Meryl Streep. She can do anything, even give this familiar "what if" film whatever bite, depth and edge it possesses.

Her restrained, affecting turn in "Hilary and Jackie" copped a Big O nomination. Her warm-hearted hooker in "My Son the Fanatic" leavened that fresh British comedy.

Here, she plays two versions of the same woman's life - a workaholic careerist and domestic mother-wife.

A thirtysomething mag writer, Pamela Drury (Ms. Griffiths) basks in peer appreciation and professional applause. But her nights are lonely, her love life a loser's tour and, of course, her biological clock is going tick-tock.

She suffers humiliation with much-married Ben (Sandy Winton), toys with suicide by hair dryer and wonders "what if"' she'd married the Mr. Right (David Roberts) she turned down 13 years before.

Voila! A car wreck and she's magically thrust into the wondered-about wifely role.

Accustomed to only self-focus, she suddenly finds herself cooking, shopping and caring for Mr. Right, three kids and a dog, plus dealing with such sticky family issues as toilet-training and the onset of menses. Then there's what to do about Ben, who crops up here, as well.

The main theme of the film, says its writer-director, who won an Oscar for editing "Shine," is the futility of regret. Happiness can only come from within, et cetera.

But the only thing that really comes booming through in this underdeveloped script is that two spunky Griffiths (she appears in all but three scenes) are even better than one.

The most obvious message of "Me Myself I" is how welcome those quirky, offbeat and slightly skewed un-Hollywood films from Down Under are.
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