Throughout the course of the 22-episode series, Michiko abandons Hatchin to get laid, lets Hatchin work a part-time job rather than pay for shoes she herself stole, leaves Hatchin with an abusive orphanage (more on that in a second), lets her run away half a dozen times, all while the two bicker constantly about often incredibly petty matters. All of this rolls up to establish that Michiko is, well, basically just a terrible, terrible mom.
And that’s pretty amazing.
Every woman is a mother? Yeah, no thanks. If Gloria is a “mother” to Phil then she’s also a lifetime member to the Bad Moms Club. In the beginning, Jeri, Phil’s real mom, calls on Gloria to take her kids. She tells Gloria that their family is “marked” by the mob. A gangster even waits in the lobby. Jeri begs her to protect her kids to which Gloria bluntly responds: “I hate kids, especially yours.” Despite her tough-talk, this ex-gun moll, ex-showgirl reluctantly agrees.
Vilifying mothers is a national pastime. Absent mothers, celebrity mothers, helicopter mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, mothers with too many children, mothers with too few children, women who don’t want to be or can’t be mothers–for women, there’s no clear way to do it right.
These two characters’ inability to see each other as anything other than personal property emerges as the compelling dramatic engine of unfolding events involving far more sinister agents, who eventually exploit the fissure in the mother-daughter bond.
I went into ‘Mommy,’ the magnificent film from out, gay, Québécois prodigy Xavier Dolan (he’s 26 and this feature is the fifth he’s written and directed) knowing that Anne Dorval, who plays the title character, was being touted in some awards circles as a possible nominee for “Best Actress” in 2014 (she’s flawless in this role, certainly better than the other Best Actress nominees I saw)–as opposed to “Best Supporting Actress.” But this film (which won the Jury Prize at Cannes) kept surpassing my expectations by keeping its focus on her and not the one who would be the main character of any other film: her at turns charismatic, obnoxious and violent 15-year-old, blonde son, Steve (an incredible Antoine-Olivier Pilon).
Amelia didn’t need to be possessed to have feelings of vitriol towards her son; they were already there, lurking inside her at the beginning. Rarely, if ever, is a mother depicted in film this way. Mothers are expected to be completely accepting and loving towards their child 24/7, despite any hardships or challenges their child presents to them.
Most people I talked to and most of the reviews that I read about ‘The Babadook’ concluded that the film is about motherhood or mother-son relations. While I agree, I also really tuned in on the complicating element to this whole narrative, which is that the mother is mentally ill.
‘Splice’ explores gendered body horror at the locus of the womb, reveling in the horror of procreation. It touches on themes of bestiality, incest, and rape. It’s also a movie about being a mom.
For women, male anxieties over female abusers combine great risk of demonization with great opportunity to forge connection. Men, like women, understand boundaries primally through their own bodies and identification. Rejecting one’s own abuse teaches one to fight against all abuse; excusing it teaches one to abuse.
Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
Though the remake provides plenty of scare factor and makes excellent use of new technology (both at the level of cinematography and within the narrative itself with various nods to iPads, iPhones, drones, etc), it lacks the critical edge of the original.
For Ava is not naïve; she is about to enter a world of patriarchal capitalism, and in order to survive, she must take from other women, not give. The moment for collectivism is lost as Ava chooses to free herself as a whole woman, gorgeous and nubile.