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France 2004
Directed by
Christopher Honoré
110 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Ma Mere

The combination of Georges Bataille, the so-called “metaphysician of evil” and darling of post-modern cultural theorists whose novel is the source for director Christopher Honoré's screenplay and Isabelle Huppert, France's maitresse of masochism, can only mean one thing – lots of self-abuse and serious pretension to artistic significance. Ma Mère delivers in spades in both respects. 

Huppert plays Hélène, a truly wacky Mrs Robinson character with a serious appetite for sexual debasement and follows her relationship with her, unsurprisingly, mixed-up son, Pierre (Louis Garrel), when he visits her on holidays. There’s lots of dirty sex, with hardly career-making scenes such as Helene's good buddy, Rea (Joana Preiss), who makes Huppert look like Doris Day, licking Pierre’s anus on the floor of a subway station. From a naturalistic point of view the dialogue often borders on the ridiculous and if the film has some strength in its exploration of the unspeakable nature of desire it would have been better if it did exactly that...not speak.

The French view of sex is distinctively pathological and for anyone who understands that and liked films such as Baise Moi, Irreversible or Anatomie De L'Enfer there may well be satisfaction here. Everyone else is likely to be bored by the apparent seriousness with which this film take itself.


 

 

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