Dear Mother 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Dear Mother (L’origine du Mondeis) a French-language Netflix Original film directed by and starring Laurent Lafitte based on the play by Sébastien Thiery. Jean-Louis isn’t exactly having a good time with life these days, what with a failing relationship with his wife Valérie (Karin Viard) and his total morose. It gets worse though when he finds one day that his heart has stopped beating. At the urging of his wife and with the support of his best friend Michel (Vincent Macaigne) he goes to see a guru (Nicole Garcia) who insists the only way she can help him start his heart again is by taking an analog photograph of his mother’s (Hélène Vincent) genitals.
On paper, this could be the recipe for two things. It could be a really deep story, perhaps about finding meaning in life or relationships again, about doing what’s best for yourself even if it means ending a long marriage, or even more intensely, an examination of the psychology of a man who marries a woman who looks remarkably like his abusive and distant mother. Alternatively, this could be a total farse of a film with crude humor galore. Alas, Dear Mother delivers neither, choosing instead to make both of the women in Jean-Lous’ life insufferable while engaging in no introspection. And while the movie has its funny moments, especially with Margaux, (it is meant to be a comedy after all), every last decent moment is overshadowed by the perverse and downright shameful way it does choose to advance its plot.
There’s no playful or humorous aspect to the characters’ quests for this photograph. Rather, they repeatedly lie to the old woman and attempt to forcibly take this photograph. And I don’t mean by trying to trick her in some attempted comedic way. Straight up just by physical force and manipulation. It’s absolutely embarrassing that the assault of any person, let alone an old woman at the behest of her own son, form the central and supposedly comedic action of two-thirds of an entire movie. There’s nothing funny about what happens, not only because the lines are not even attempting humor, but she is literally screaming to be left alone over and over again and is ignored and gaslight repeatedly. I truly cannot believe that this is a movie that exists, let alone has the funding and support of Netflix.
I can maybe be convinced that there’s a tactful and comedic way to make this plot work without it involving non-consensual behavior and harassment. Maybe. And I understand entirely that this is a film, not real life, and that there’s an attempt at making meaning out of Jean-Louis’ inability to just admit that his heart has stopped and this is the only solution, or that his relationship with his truly annoying wife mirrors the submission he’s forced upon himself to cope with an unloving mother. But movies aren’t made in a vacuum, they’re products of real humans who really think that depicting repeated assaults on the main character’s mother by the main character and his accomplices is an acceptable sacrifice to make for the sake of art. And unfortunately, I simply cannot abide that.
This all on top of the fact that all of the film’s funniest moments and biggest “wow” moments come at the very end very suddenly in a total absurdist fashion that mismatches the rest of the film’s tone. I chuckled a few times for sure, and I even got a bit emotional at one point because, after all, there is a decent concept trapped inside this travesty. But it was proceeded and followed by more of the same garbage. Even the physical comedy, some of which, isolated, could have been funny, come at the expense of either trans folks or more assault. The former actually upsets me because it’s this moment that is played like it’s supposed to be the butt of a (trite and not funny) joke, but then Jean-Louis is actually just completely casual and ultimately supportive of it, and other moments that you’d be surprised by his reaction to. It’s just another testament to what could have been as he and the women around him inverse a lot of gendered expectations we imprint onto their characters early on.
If you want to watch Dear Mother, knowing full well the way that it tries to get its humor across, my intention is not to moralize, but the movie is simply not even funny for all of the bad taste that it pours into its wasted potential. This could have been an interesting movie about so many things with a weird, humorous vehicle for the plot. But instead, it’s just an embarrassing attempt to make light of something that isn’t funny under any circumstance.
Dear Mother is streaming now on Netflix.