Ma Mere (18)

Film

Drama

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Time Out says

Released for Mother’s Day, this adaptation of Georges Bataille’s unfinished incest fantasy (Julie Delpy’s train reading at the start of ‘Before Sunrise’, incidentally) by sometime children’s-book writer Honoré also makes a handy companion piece to ‘Kinsey’. Where the latter collates a clinically middlebrow case-study of how Doctor Sex helped unlock America’s sexual revolution in reaction to his repressive father (I simplify, but only slightly), ‘Ma Mère’ knocks about messily and mysteriously with Bataille’s still unassimilable exegesis on sex and sacrifice, probing our assumed modern sexual sang froid even as it updates the novel’s setting to the contemporary sex feeder-farms of the Canary Islands.

It’s weird fruit. Lanky Pierre (Louis Garrel of ‘The Dreamers’) is summoned to his parents’ island coop, where he twitters the word ‘Mama’ obsessively, until the day his dad meets his off-screen death. Unleashed, mother (Isabelle Huppert, regally kinky) and son are soon out partying, swapping confidences and rubbing each other up the ‘wrong’ way, initially via the surrogate of ma’s toothy girlfriend Réa (Joana Preiss). Pierre finds sweeter succour in a local girl, Hansi (Emma de Caunes), and invests in her ‘ass’ all the joy he used to feel for God; but when she finds him sharing these considerations by letter to his mother, things take another turn for the perverse.
Honoré works out this libertarian trawl of discovery in a flatly observant tone, without anchoring the action in any psychological substantiality; the film feels neither real nor dreamy. More puzzling than shocking, it’s a bit of a drag.
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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Mar 4, 2005

Duration:

110 mins

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Heathpops

The most uncomfortable part of 'Ma Mere' is not the incest and self harm but the sheer loneliness and isolation of the characters, particularly played against the sweet natured (and normal) house servents who do their best to protect Pierre (Louis Garrel). Stunning performance by Huppert who is mesmerising, a believable kinky ice queen. Lacks the playfulness of 'Dreamers' and as a result is a less rewarding experience for the viewer.