Saturday, January 26, 2013

The unintentional Sundance comedy.

Xavier Samuel and James Frechevile
in Two Mothers
I'm not sure whether to title this post the unintentional comedy or the unintentional tragedy.  Here's why.  What no one wants to have happen at Sundance is for the audience to laugh all the way through your movie when you hadn't intended it to be all that funny.  So while the audience laugghed all the way through Two Mothers from director Anne Fontaine, it was mostly tragic.  Because the movie came across as a bit of a laughing stock.

Two Mothers is the story of a pair of women who have been friends for life.  They've grown up together living near each other in the same Australian town. As they move through life they each have a son at about the same time.  The boys grow up to handsome (oh let's just say it: sexy) young men.  And before you know it, each woman his having a torrid affair with her best friend's son.  I'd argue that the basic premise is flawed from the start, but not an impossible story line.  The problem is the story doesn't stop there.  The women finally come to their senses and stop.  The sons get married and have kids. (Imagine that mother-in-law relationship.) And maybe one of the moms didn't really stop having sex with her best friends married son.

All these plot twists and turns combined with the super-dramatic screenplay result in a movie that's hard to believe.  And it's not because the filmmakers didn't try.  It's easy to understand why the four main characters might end up in a sexual situation.  Naomi Watts and Robin Wright are beautiful as the mothers.  And Xavier Samuel and James Frechevile are just downright hot.  Put them in an awe-inspiring Australian beach setting and there's bound to be some sexual tension. And I actually think there are some interesting ideas to explore in that story.

Two Mothers is beautifully shot and artfully directed.  But as the story becomes evermore dramatic and ridiculous, the film dives further and further into the territory of a bad soap opera.  No one from the film was there for the Q and A.  And that might be for the best.  I'm not sure how the boisterous laughter during the film would have resonated with those involved.

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