Film review: Mother, The

Published: Thursday, Aug. 26 2004 1:02 p.m. MDT

Anne Reid in "The Mother."

Ivan Kynci, Sony Pictures Classics

Enlarge photo»

"The Mother" makes the mistake of killing off its most interesting character in the first 10 minutes. The characters we're left watching aren't nearly as compelling. In many ways they're not just uninteresting, they're unpleasant.

This British drama gets increasingly lurid as it goes. And its handling of risque material is sensationalistic, even exploitative.

If there's any reason at all to see the movie, it's for the performance of Anne Reid, an actress better known for her comedic work in England (especially the television programs "Dinnerladies" and "Sweet Charity").

She stars as May, a sixtysomething whose husband, Toots (Peter Vaughan), has just died. So now she's weighing options for the future. After all, May has had an offer to stay with her son, Bobby (Steven Mackintosh), and his family.

Instead, she finds herself living with her daughter,

Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw), who's a mess. For one thing, she's asked her mother to check up on her boyfriend, Darren (Daniel Craig), who's renovating Bobby's house.

To May's surprise, she and the much-younger (nearly half her age) Darren hit it off, and the next thing you know, the two are having tea and lunches — and begin sleeping together.

This material is pretty dicey. And it's not very believable, despite the best efforts of Reid and Craig to convince us otherwise. (The way the sex scenes were treated is shameless and not nearly as discreet or tactful as it should have been.)

The only thing the film has going for it is Reid, though the jazzy piano score is tasteful and restrained (it's about the only aspect of the film that is).

"The Mother" is rated R for occasional use of strong sexual profanity and crude sexual slang terms, simulated sex and other sexual contact, brief male and female nudity, frank sex talk (as well as sexually explicit artwork), and brief violence (slapping and a temper tantrum). Running time: 112 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com