The Mother (7/10)
2004 by Tony Medley
There is no word in
the English language for a female equivalent to cuckold (who is a man
whose wife is sleeping with someone else). This is about a Mother who
sleeps with her daughter’s boy friend. While this might not
technically be the female equivalent of a cuckold, since the man is not
married to the daughter, it’s close enough.
May (Anne Reid) goes
on a trip to London with her husband, Toots (Peter Vaughan), where he
promptly dies. This leaves May forlorn, in the midst of her two
children, son Bobby (Steven Mackintosh), and daughter, Paula (Cathryn
Bradshaw), a single mom in love with Bobby’s carpenter, Darren (Daniel
Craig). To make matters worse, Bobby’s wife, Helen (Anna Wilson
Jones), and their children don’t want May around.
Bobby himself is so
absorbed in his business problems that he doesn’t really have much
interest in May’s predicament, either. So May goes to live with Paula,
who confides in May that she is in love with Darren. Paula trustingly
asks her mother to talk to Darren to try to discern his true feelings,
given that he’s married and has an autistic son and all.
With that setup, May
agrees…then proceeds to seduce Darren.
This is a story of
terminally selfish people. While the purpose of Director Roger Michell (Changing
Lanes, 2002, and Notting Hill, 1999) and writer Hanif
Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette, 1985) was apparently to show
that women over 60 still have strong sexual feelings, May’s sexuality
is overshadowed by her shallow selfishness.
went out of his way to show how much May enjoys sex. There are graphic
scenes of fornication, which I found offensive. I see no reason to show
a man having sex with a woman from behind, with graphic images of his
thrusts. As Evelyn Waugh said about the sexual act in a letter to Nancy
Mitford, "(T)he pleasure (is) momentary, the posture ridiculous,
the expense damnable.” We shouldn’t be subjected to such scenes that
are neither titillating nor necessary. If Michell wanted to show how
much pleasure May received from the sexual act, it would have sufficed
to show her face and listened to her moans of pleasure without making it
a two shot and including Darren. As I was squirming while watching this
disgusting scene I was reminded of a scene of the great French actress,
Jeanne Moreau. Someone was making love to her, although we don’t see
him, and she expresses her ecstasy with her eyes, making the point far
more memorably than Michell does here with May and Darren. Moreau
conveyed the idea through great acting and sensitive directing, while
the shot of May and Darren looked to me like two dogs rutting in the
The film also
contains drawings of May performing oral sex on Darren. While these
drawings are important to the plot, the point could have been made
without such graphic depictions of fellatio.
Reid does such a good job of acting that you want to be sympathetic to
her. But she’s so self-centered and inconsiderate of her daughter’s
feelings that, in the end, it’s just not possible. In fact, it’s
hard to believe that a mother could be so insensitively wanton with her
daughter’s beloved. This is a troubling film, about a half hour too
long at 111 minutes, but it’s one that makes you think and ponder.
April 8, 2004