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Emily tells her son Paul, now six years old, the story of his life - how she sought motherhood, to be a mom without a husband, to raise a perfect, exceptional child, whom she calls Loverboy. In flashbacks told around a pretend car trip they take - so he can practice driving - we see Paul's infancy, their fun together (sometimes with a manic edge), and his growing desire to go to school and be with other kids. We also flash back to Emily's childhood, with parents so bound up with each other that she's virtually ignored. Is Emily going to be able to let Paul be with others? Or, can she, as in the David Bowie song she sings at a school talent show, construct a life on Mars? Written by
Fitting in with the outside world, respectability, suitability, conformity, were never high on my priority list; neither was normalcy. I admit: I cultivated arrogance. The world would be our school; I wanted to learn it and teach it to you.
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The problem with this film is that it tries to do too much. It is basically an attempt to describe the intergenerational dysfunctionality of the family of the main character, played ably at times by Kyra Sedgwick. Nevertheless, there are other moments when this female character, who is otherwise clearly possessed by numerous demons, just comes across as plain silly. Silliness isn't necessarily out of tune with what is really happening in this complex, but poorly-told tale; Kyra Sedwick's "parents" in the film are also silly, goofing around until the poignant moment when they realise their 10-year-old daughter singing David Bowie's "Life on Mars" acapella at her school's end-of-year show, is a reference to their freakishness. But the real, deep, important questions the movie raises are left frustratingly unaddressed and unanswered: how can two people who are so crazy about one another ignore the fruit of their love? When does a mother's love turn from genuine care into stifling, morbid possessiveness? At one point, the mother is trying to defend her refusal to let her son attend school by quoting Emerson and Alessandra Montessori; but it is never really clear just what it is she actually dreams for her son, other than always having him by her side. She confesses to the viewer, "I admit, I encouraged arrogance" in her son, but the boy is the only reasonable one of the pair, showing behaviour of a maturity beyond his years. All this confuses the film's audience even further. Perhaps the fact itself that the movie asks these questions is to it's credit; but it ultimately fails to deliver on it's promise.
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