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Ma mère (2004)

 -  Drama  -  19 May 2004 (France)
5.2
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 4,190 users   Metascore: 35/100
Reviews: 40 user | 58 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

Based on George Bataille's posthumous and controversial novel: When his father dies, a young man is introduced by his attractive, amoral mother to a world of hedonism and depravity.

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Title: Ma mère (2004)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Hélène, the Mother
...
Pierre, the Son
...
Hansi
Joana Preiss ...
Réa
Jean-Baptiste Montagut ...
Loulou
Dominique Reymond ...
Marthe
...
Robert
Philippe Duclos ...
The Father
Pascal Tokatlian ...
Klaus
Théo Hakola ...
Ian
...
The Doctor
Patrick Fanik ...
Eric
Susi Egetenmeier ...
Woman in dunes
...
Woman of couple
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Storyline

Pierre, a youth, comes from his grandmother's in France to stay with his parents in the Canary Islands. His father talks oddly about his lost youth and leaves abruptly for France. Mom promises to take Pierre to a nightclub, remarking that people will think he's her lover. He prays. His father dies in France, and his mother wants him to empty his father's office; Pierre finds it full of pornography. His mother takes him in tow into a night world without morality, a world of sexual exploitation, exhibitionism, and wildness. What will Pierre make of this, and what, ultimately, will he make of his mother? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for strong and aberrant sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

19 May 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Ma mère  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$10,334 (USA) (13 May 2005)

Gross:

$70,395 (USA) (19 August 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| | (Synchro Film, Austria)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Pierre, the Son: [Réa is mounting on him] I'm your horse?
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Connections

Referenced in Caché (Hidden) (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Hymn To Love (Hymne à l'amour)
Written by Édith Piaf and Marguerite Monnot
Performed by Cyndi Lauper
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User Reviews

 
The Oedipus Complex with Variations from Novelist Georges Bataille
27 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

'Ma mère' is a film on the edge. Director Christophe Honoré (who gave us the little jewel 'Closer to Leo') has adapted a tough book by Georges Bataille that explores incest, sadomasochism, love, family dysfunction, and nebulous moral values of conflicted adolescents caught in the web of sexual investigation. It is filled with difficult scenes and ideas and certainly is not a film for the faint of heart or spirit, but at the same time it is a brave film depicting the dissociative state of sexual mind to which we've come after the influences of such thinkers as Bataille, Foucault, Derida, Gide, and others. Christophe Honoré captures an impossible story extremely well on the screen! 17-year-old Pierre (Louis Garrel of 'The Dreamers') is a spiritually challenged adolescent home from his Catholic school to be with his mother Hélène (Isabelle Huppert) whom he idolizes and loves and see his father (Philippe Duclos) who is distant in every sense. Hélène finds it necessary to inform Pierre of her background (her husband raped her when she was very young, causing such anguish that she has become addicted to a life of immorality as a means of escape), a means of warning him of what close association with her could mean. Pierre is blind to all things negative about Hélène and with the news of his father's death, he demands to be included in the wild sexual life of Hélène and her female lover Réa (Joana Preiss). Hélène is sexually attracted to Pierre and elects to include him in her games of voyeurism (watching Pierre during intercourse with Réa, introducing him to the shallow and compulsive Hansi (Emma de Caunes), mutilation, and all forms of debauchery.

The group goes to the sunny islands off Spain where Pierre falls in love with the dangerous Hansi and follows her lead in learning about his mother's strange and dangerous proclivities, sexual acts which include the involvement of young Loulou (Jean-Baptiste Montagut), a young man whom they torture for the sake of sexual satisfaction. All the while that Pierre is being introduced into Hélène's bizarre world he is conflicted by his superego in the form of the Catholic Church: he is seen reciting catechism in the desert surrounded by a silent, nude Greek chorus a la Fellini. Ultimately the 'vacation' is over and Pierre returns home with Hélène and the ultimate incestuous aspect of the Oedipus complex plays out in a completely bizarre and very dark way. To say more would destroy the impact of the ending.

Isabelle Huppert is brilliant as always, her quiet outwardly plain demeanor disguising the profoundly ill soul inside. Likewise Louis Garrel makes the fragile, gullible, needy and severely conflicted Pierre understandable: we may not agree with his choices as he wades through the strange waters of perversion, but we never lose sight of his vulnerability and passionate need to be loved. There is a lot of graphic sex in this film, but this particular story could not be told without it. Christophe Honoré manages this strange tale by letting the story take us into the realm of the unreal and he never for a moment loses our interest.

Even the music scoring is substantive, using Samuel Barber's own setting of his famous 'Adagio for Strings' for the choral 'Agnus Dei', most appropriately heard when Pierre is mentally visiting his spiritual conflicts with his corporal deeds. This is clearly not a film for everyone, but for those who admire the French cinema history of uncovering strange tales, this is a fine example. In French with English subtitles. Grady Harp


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