Ma Mère Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Christophe Honoré
Producer : Bernard Henri-Lévy, Paulo Branco,
Screenwriter : Christophe Honoré
The strapping youth whom the film places at the intersecting desires of three women is Pierre (Louis Garrel), a somewhat idle guy who, after his father's mysterious death, gets sucked into the orbit of his self-destructive mother, Helène (Huppert). This involves a lot of gamesmanship whereby Helène tries to push Pierre into more and more outlandish behavior, especially with her wastrel friend Réa (Joane Preiss), whom she's more than a little chummy with. At first, Helène pushes Pierre towards Réa, seemingly as a way of having one-degree-of-separation sex with him, watching longingly as Réa screws Pierre in public, blasé strangers wandering past. It's easy to see why these three are pushing themselves to such extremes, given the film's bland setting in the Grand Canaries - with its California-like, mildly libidinous atmosphere and constant, enervating sunlight. But unfortunately that doesn't mean there's much depth to it at all, no matter how much philosophical and religious piffle writer/director Christophe Honoré puts into Pierre's portentous voiceovers.
In the face of such a twisted psychosexual dynamic, Pierre doesn't really stand a chance when he starts up a relationship with the wholesome, adorable Hansi (Emma de Caunes); the perfectly enjoyable but vanilla sex he has with her just really can't compare. And so the stage is set for the inevitable consummation between Pierre and Helène, which is handled in a strangely timid fashion, given the forthright attitude the rest of the film takes.
As downright silly and pretentious as Ma Mère ultimately is, there's still an impressive amount of skill that went into its making, which shouldn't be ignored. Honoré's impressively depicts the ennui of this sun-bleached resort, where extremes seem to be the only thing to break through the boredom. And while his actors struggle mightily with the idea-heavy script, they still manage (Garrel especially) to carve credible performances out of the wooden dialogue and empty spaces. Huppert is, as always, hard not to be entranced by, but there's a certain lassitude to her work here (daring as it is) that keeps it from living up to her reputation. This is an actress who can get by an autopilot just fine, one just hopes that when the times comes, she still remembers how to fly.
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