‘The Mother’ offers a view into perils of old age
When May first meets Darren in the British film “The Mother,” it barely even registers with her. And why would it? May is in her 60s, making her a generation older than Darren. Darren is a mere construction worker, which places him several rungs beneath the sophisticated May’s radar. And May appears to have been anesthetized to the world, to a degree, by a life spent tending to her slow, simple husband Toots.On May’s next encounter with Darren, she is repulsed by him, and why shouldn’t she be? Darren is getting rough with his girlfriend – and May’s daughter – Paula, and, in an overheard conversation, May learns that Darren is married.By the third time May (Anne Reid) and Darren (Daniel Craig) meet, however, the air has warmed. And who could blame her? Toots has died, May has gotten over her initial shock at widowhood in record time, and is just opening her eyes to the potential that life on her own holds. She is intelligent, healthy, and for the first time in decades, she is held back by nothing.But May has been in the dark too long, opened her eyes too suddenly, and is staring straight into a metaphorical sun that is burning her. Her daily lunch with Darren has escalated into advanced sexual romps, explicit drawings of the two of them in action, and even talk of taking off together for a romantic jaunt somewhere. May is deep in fantasy land, and the 25 or so years separating her from her new boy toy is only the beginning of it. There is Darren’s autistic son to be considered. More significant still is the relationship between May and Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw), which has never been warm. And now that mother and daughter are competing for the same action, the long-simmering pot has reached boiling.The sex scenes – occasionally depicted in discomfiting detail – are bound to draw the most scrutiny and elicit the most squirms. But “The Mother,” directed by Roger Michell from Hanif Kureishi’s script, is more about family relations than sexual ones. The most indelible marks to be left by the film are not the intergenerational bedroom scenes, but the revelations of grief, loss, separation and loneliness – and these come between May and Darren; May and Paula; May and her son, Bobby; May and Bruce, a man of her own generation in whom she has little interest, but dates nonetheless.Sex is not the point of “The Mother.” Rather, it is one among several vehicles to create a rounded portrait of the sadness and social disorientation that can come with aging. With a memorable, nervy performance by Reid, “The Mother” provides a cautionary, emotional note about the perils of ripe, old age.”The Mother” shows tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 14, and tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 15, at the Wheeler Opera House.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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