“Ma Mere” translated as My Mother, explores the outlook of moral breakdown by questioning the purpose and its value. This film speaks about women’s self-indulgent ways educating her young son. Sounds absurd and it’s!! If anything goes, what goes first?
This is a Euro film made in four different languages. Viz. French, Austrian, Portuguese & Spanish. It is based on the controversial, provocative and posthumous 1966 novel of the same name by postmodern intellectual French author George Bataille. The film is about the fictional story of an incestuous relationship between a 17-year-old boy and his attractive, uninhibited, 43-year-old mother. French Director Christophe Honore, also penned the screenplay is known for his later movie “Dans Paris” in 2006, led him to be considered by French critics as the heir to the Nouvelle Vague cinema.
The film stars the great French actress Isabelle Huppert, known for movies like “The Piano Teacher” and “The School of Flesh,” has finally shot the moon with this one. Her character of Helene, a newly widowed, middle-aged epicurean who inhabits the family summer home in the Canary Islands, which she has turned into a sexual orgy pad with attached swimming pool. Christophe Honore shot the film on location on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain. Its dialogue is almost entirely in French with brief segments in Spanish, German and English.
The story revolves around pious, young Pierre (Louis Garrel) who comes to live with his wealthy parents after his stint with Catholic boarding school at their villa on the island of Gran Canaria. Pierre’s father (Philipe Duclos) dies early in the movie, leaving his mother, Helene (Isabelle Huppert) to care for him. Pierre soon learns, however, of the depraved nature of his parents. While in a restaurant, his mother reveals to him that she has been unfaithful to her husband many times with his knowledge and feels no shame about it. She then insists that her son accepts her immoral ways.
Just after this- Pierre finds a closet full of his father’s pornography. His reaction is to furiously masturbate and then to urinate on the magazine pages. However, there are several far more shocking surprises in store for Pierre. His mother cheers her uninhibited sex buddy, Rea (Joana Preiss), to take her son’s virginity. She does so but in public and on a concrete floor at Gran Canaria’s Yumbo Centrum, a popular shopping and nightlife complex. Helene looks on desirously as the discreetly clothed couple copulates with passersby raising no objections. Tailed to more sexual pleasure, Pierre is put into an orgy with her friends, including Hansi (Emma de Caunes), a sweet-faced young woman who later becomes Pierre’s girlfriend. After the orgy, Helene decides that she must leave her son to travel. While saying goodbye to Pierre, she implies that something taboo has happened between them and that she must leave to prevent it from happening again.
Upon Helene’s departure, Hansi’s friendship with Pierre blossoms into a tender romance, in the way fall in love. Through their relationship, she reveals about her sado-masochistic sex many times with her friend Loulou (Jean-Baptiste Montagut) as the willing masochist. She indicates that Helene arranged these encounters as sexual exhibitions for tourists. Subsequently after an extended absence, Pierre’s mother returns home with Rea. Upon arriving, she finds her son and Hansi socializing at a bar near the villa. Helene and Pierre greet each other by chatting and gazing into each other’s eyes like lovers while Hansi looks on resentfully as Pierre’s mother invites her son to sleep with her. They go into the wine cellar of the house. They begin to act out their desires physically. Helene asks her son to cut her abdomen with a razor while he masturbates and as he climaxes she slits her own throat.
The film ends with the paramedics casting way Helen’s body and Pierre is allowed to say his good bye before the cremation. He enters the room where she lies in state and masturbates exclaiming that he does not want to die as he is carried out.
The film captures the orgiastic nature of a society that has no shame. The scenes in the bars and clubs look as undone as a night on crystal meth, as genuine as a docudrama. The director exhibits the daring myth of storytelling and some might say shocking about the film’s obsession with sex is merely the language with which to speak of love, loss, fear and isolation.
The performances are brilliant, particularly by Pierre (Louis Garrel) remember for his Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” and Isabelle Huppert, remain the wild child of her youth, refusing any form of discipline, celebrating sensuality as an expression of independence. Rules and regulations are like walls of a prison. She explores the territory beyond and forever closer to that sexual liberation. As an audience, we are however sucked into a void, where feelings implode and passion finds no countenance except through the shock and some kind of revelation in a way Helene declares “The pleasure only begins the moment the worm is in the fruit.” And “We must together refuse the world of those who patiently await death to enlighten them.” So much so, the screenplay is punctuated by Helene’s big assertions. “I want you to love me for the shame I inspire in you,”
Quiet in the pursuit of decadence, the writer/director Christophe Honore ponders breezily about the problems of turning the theoretical fiction of an author who died in 1962 into a contemporary movie that still leaves its ideas intact. But the images in “Ma Mère” are so much more dominant and fluid, those submissions in the context are obsessive, sensual, deliberately ignites the flame of femininity, enrapturing both partners in complete euphoria, magnifying both the masculine and the feminine in one tantalizing unit……Yes characters trumps crowned by human tissue
- Written and Directed by Christophe Honore
- Produced by Paulo Branco & Bernard-Henri Levy
- Casting: Isabelle Huppert; Louis Garrel & Emma de Caunes
- Release date: 13 May 2004
- Runtime of 110 minutes
- Country : France
- Language: French