Published May 29, 2009Utilizing many of the same actors and a similar work shopped improvisational template, Carl Bessai's examination of the volatile and exclusive nature of the mother-daughter bond is strongly reminiscent of Bruce Sweeney's particular shtick. Think of it as Sweeney light, but with no explicit sex acts or unabashed bouts of human depravity, aside from a particularly nasty dinner party where the "C" bomb gets dropped.
Part narrative and part interview (think of The Office but with someone other than Steve Carell crying), Mothers & Daughters introduces three pairs of women, each grappling with issues of rage, love, disappointment, co-dependency and ultimately, forgiveness.
Micki (Babz Chula), a typically self-absorbed, neurotic artiste type, uses her daughter Rebecca (Camille Sullivan) as source material and a sounding board for her artistic endeavours in the literary world. Having a lifelong best friend dynamic to their relationship, as opposed to one of parental influence, the pair rip into each other with verbal and physical gusto. Truth be told, this storyline is the lifeblood of the film.
Another plot involves a painter (Tantoo Cardinal) who finds a bond with a young client (Tinsel Korey) based on mutual losses and abandonment issues, while the last pairing finds Brenda (Gabrielle Rose) suffering a breakdown after her husband leaves her single and penniless, which, oddly enough, strengthens the bond between her and her alienated psychiatrist daughter (Tiffany Lyndall-Knight).
While always engaging, and energized by the three-dimensional vitality of these women, the film never feels complete, finding resolution but never reaching its full emotional potential. Most of this stems from a too brief running time for such full-bodied characters to move around in, while the rest comes from the occasionally awkward balance between documentary and drama.
This may just be a minor quibble, however, as the feat of leaving viewers wanting more suggests success on its own, not to mention the strength and complexity of the performances on display, in particular Sullivan and Chula. While slight, there is much to enjoy here, at least for anyone curious to see an all-female movie without concerns of gossip or fashion. (Kinosmith)