The Mother

on May 28, 2004 by Kevin Courrier
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"The Mother" has a shockingly funny premise. When her husband suddenly dies, May (Anne Reid) can't face going home so she seeks refuge with her children. May's yuppie son barely has time to acknowledge her, so her bitterly unhappy daughter, Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw), takes her in to care for her grandchild--meanwhile not caring to share an adult relationship with her. In trying to assert her newly acquired independence, May finds herself strongly attracted to Paula's boyfriend, Darren (Daniel Craig), a much younger man. When they begin an affair, it brings calamity upon the whole family.

"The Mother" has all the elements for a brazen comedy about family dysfunction, except that the director, Roger Michell ("Notting Hill," "Changing Lanes"), never finds the right tone. Even though the mother's actions--sleeping with her daughter's boyfriend--are foolish and careless, the film turns churlish rather than screwball. If "The Mother" had a lighter comic touch it might have made the darker material more poignant. Starring Anne Reid, Daniel Craig, Cathryn Bradshaw and Steven MacIntosh. Directed by Roger Michell. Written by Hanif Kureishi. Produced by Kevin Loader. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated R for sexual content including graphic images of sexuality, language and brief drug use. Running time: 112 min

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