Start with an ABC after school special. If a mother is so frustrated with her
own suburban existence and her failed relationship with her own mother that she
pushes her daughter to get out and experience life to its fullest, there's a
pretty good chance that the daughter will end up out of control, a fact which
the daughter will finally admit (in theatrical dialogue) after seven years of
cold sexual promiscuity leaves her feeling empty.
That alone wouldn't make for much of a movie, so Surviving My Mother adds a
few more layers about the various relationships between the three generations of
women in the household, as well as an odd twist about the man who finally breaks
down the emotional walls of the slutty daughter. The author also adds a thin
veneer of black comedy and a bit of social satire.
The result? It's a real mess, a pseudo-Almodovar effort that can't ever
seem to decide where to go. Some characters and situations seem real while
others seem to have been culled from bad sitcoms, and still others seem to come
from soap operas. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Are we to take its lessons and
dialogues as real or ironic? Hard to say. But it's not much good either way.
On the technical side, some of the film looks professional, but other scenes
look like they were assembled by college students playing with their Macs and
thinking it would be really cool to see internet chat dialogue floating through
the air as an illustration of the difference between people as they are in life
and as they are online.
As Bill Maher would say, we need a new rule: Only Almodovar can make
Almodovar films. I found nothing to like in this film except the charming and ingratiating
screen presence of Caroline Dhavernas, who blends "sexy" and "wholesome" about
as well as any young actress working today.
If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to
explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by
our definition, a
C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs
and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: