Mother and Son (1997)

There’s a curious sort of disconnect, for want of a better word, at the heart of this film. As the title suggests, it is indeed about a mother and her son, the former is dying of something never specified and indeed the film takes place on what would appear to be the last day of her life. Nick Cave, of all people, has a review of it here; his friend’s description of it as a film in which nothing happens and then someone dies is amusing but not entirely unfair. It’s a film about arguably the most difficult time in a person’s life, i.e. the end of it, especially when the road to the end has been as difficult as it appears to have been here, but the emotional rawness of the situation is tempered by the “painterly” (well, that’s what everyone else calls it) presentation… the hazy cinematography evidently designed to invoke German Romantic painters like C.D. Friedrich, and the use of lenses and other things to distort the image a la Stan Brakhage (I watched a Youtube copy, which admittedly did the visuals few favours). I don’t know, it just seemed odd, this terrifyingly real situation depicted in a manner that seems designed to make it feel unreal or something. Maybe it’s just me. I found this a terribly difficult film in a number of ways; quite apart from the slowness and the not much actually happening, the narrative situation is one I’ve been closer to in recent months than I would like, and it hit a little bit closer to home than most of the stuff I watch, to the point where I can’t stand back from it easily and appraise it as a film like I usually do. Some films make you wonder what you might do in the situations they present; in this case I have a somewhat terrible feeling that I know exactly what I’d do, and it’s not a comforting thought.


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