Mothers and Daughters (2016): Mellow-Drama (Review)

Selma Blair in Mothers and Daughters

In many ways Mothers and Daughters should have been a  runaway chick flick hit.  It had a bevy of very talented and beautiful actresses in the lead roles and all have chops for days.  A cast that featured two Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee should have been near perfect.  However the film is more mellow-drama than flat out drama and felt little more than a television “movie of the week.”

The performances were well above adequate, but the storylines were, perhaps, too many to focus on properly.  Thematically too, the film could have been problematic. Daughters and mothers do have very prickly relationships, quite possibly the film hit too close to home for the females in the audience.

Another problem could have been a lack of eye candy for the ladies. Christopher Backus (who has been rocking it as Rick in Showtimes’ Roadies and is the real-life spouse of Mira Sorvino) was not onscreen for long at all. The same fate befell Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. regular Luke Mitchell. (Not only does Mitchell  have even less screen time than Backus, his character turns out to be  bit of a rotter.)

Mothers and Daughters is an anthology film, which means several storylines, or vignettes are meant to be linked by a common thread.  The movie starts with Rigby (Selma Blair) photographing singer Nelson Quinn.

She is a professional photographer who specializes in musicians.   Rigby writes a letter to her mother about her youth and discovery of passion for picture taking. (Natalie Burn plays the young Rigby’s mother.)

Mira Sorvino’s character Georgina is seen next with her boyfriend  Sebastian. Sharon Stone plays a fashion magnate whose daughter has more in common with Georgina than with her own mother.

Courteney Cox  and Christina Ricci have relationship that feels like the female version of Jack Nicholson’s upbringing. 

Susan Sarandon plays opposite her real-life daughter Eva Amurri Martino in a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo. Although Ms. Sarandon rocks her few seconds on camera. 

Directed by Paul Duddridge and Nigel Levy (Duddridge provided concept that Paige Cameron based the screenplay on.) the film tries to cram too much drama into a 90 minute time frame.  But for all the different storylines the overall feeling of the film’s tone is tepid versus tragic.

Blair (A personal favorite since “discovering her” in “Hellboy.”)  has an interesting arc and plays a character we can get behind.  Actually all the characters are “likable” per se but none of them get enough screen time for the audience to really connect with them.

Mothers and Daughters is, in essence, a drawing room drama. One heavy with dialogue and, except for the Cox/Ricci storyline, pretty normal.

A woman has the child she gave up for adoption get in contact with her.  Another gets pregnant and must decide if she wants an abortion or not.  Yet another learns something about her mother that shakes her to the core.

Despite having performers who are brilliant at their craft, each vignette spends too little time on the respective storylines. We never really get a chance to warm to any of the characters.

It is Rigby that we really connect with but that may well be down to her particular storyline and Blair’s portrayal of a woman who lost touch with her mother.

This is not a bad film, far from it, it is just not a great one.  At 90 minutes it is not overly long nor is it boring.  The pace is a little up and down, mostly down, but overall it still entertains.

There are moments where the viewer may need to grab for the tissue box, but not many.

Anthology films, when done properly, like “Love Actually” for instance, are good value for money.  However, this film just does not quite deliver, even with such a capable cast.

On the bright side, Sharon Stone looks brilliant and proves that she can still act, despite the travesty of her role in Agent X.  Blair is endearing, as is Sorvino.

Mothers and Daughters is a solid 3 star film.  Not bad, nowhere near it, but nothing to prompt repeated viewings either. The film is streaming on Netflix right now. Head on over and check it out. Until then take a look at the trailer below.

Scream 4…Sidney’s Last Stand

Scream 4
Scream 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell in love with the original Scream after watching the first five minutes. When Wes (we are not worthy) Craven killed off the “name” star in the first reel. With this one action he showed us, the audience, that he knew and loved horror films and thrillers. The little nod to Hitchcock’s killing of Janet Leigh at the beginning  of Psycho told me immediately that this was a film-maker that was going to have fun with the genre.

Scre4m aka Scream 4 is the last of the Scream franchise. I had real reservations about the last of the Screams. I was afraid that Wes had gone to the well once too often and that the bucket he drew up would be empty. Boy was I wrong. This was a brilliant end to a series that has always shown a stroke of genius in each sequel. Yes I know that Wes cannot take all the credit. These films work because of the writing and the acting as well.

Scre4m opens with a murder similar to the first Scream films. Although it comes to us initially via various trailers to the fictional Stab films in the Scream verse. We are introduced to Sidney Prescott’s cousin Jill, played with great panache by Emma Roberts. We then get to see all our favourite living characters from the previous films.   Deputy Dewey, played again by David Arquette, is now the sheriff of Woodsboro and has married Gale.  Gale Weathers-Riley, played by Courtney Cox, has retired from the mainstream news world and is trying to write “the great American novel” and not getting very far with it. Sidney Prescott, played again by Neve Campbell, is now a writer. Her book, about living through and dealing with the events from the previous films, is a bestseller. She returns to Woodsboro as part of her book signing tour.

Sidney Prescott
Sidney Prescott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We also meet the new cast of “victims.” Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed, one of the slew of friends that Jill has, makes the most of her part. She was born to play this kind of role. I of course still think of her as the cheerleader from Heroes, you know “Save the cheerleader save the world.” But she does a brilliant job as the future “man-eater” Kirby. The other memorable friend of Jill’s is Rory Culkin as Charlie Walker. Charlie is the Randy substitute in this Scream film. A necessary replacement since Randy is dispatched by Ghost Face in Scream 2. Although not in the victim department I have to mention Marley Shelton. As Deputy Judy Hicks she rocked it out of the park. Her characterisation of the love lorn Deputy Judy was both comedic and scary, sometimes at the same time.

Of course Ghost Face is still voiced by Roger Jackson. Could anyone else have done it? I think not. His voice is synonymous with Ghost Face and always will be. I can’t reveal anything else about the plot because I will be heading into spoiler territory if I do. I can and will tell you it deals with the theme of the internet and it’s propensity to make celebrities out of those who know how to use it.

So that’s it. I have, like so many other Scream fans I am sure, waited for this film for ages. I loved it so much that I sat through two viewings on two separate occasions. I also couldn’t wait for a special edition blu-ray to come out. As much as I want special features, in this case it did not matter.

So  hats off to Director Wes Craven for once again pulling it off. The grande finale of all the Scream’s was nigh on perfect.