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Netflix Movie Dear mother is oh, so painfully French: it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival; it is directed by and stars Laurent Lafitte, who faced Isabelle Huppert in She; and it’s an existential farce, as if the Farrelly brothers around 98 were obsessed with Jean-Paul Sartre. Let’s get to the gist of it.


The essential: COSMOS. Planets, comets, galaxies and more. Don’t worry, this might all make sense in a minute here, but no guarantees. On Earth, it’s dark on our teevee screens, perhaps like a starless void, as we hear the sounds of adult humans having sex, which quickly end and descend into post-coital feuds. I think the empty space we see symbolizes the empty space between Jean-Louis (Lafitte) and Valérie (Karin Viard). They’ve been together for 17 years, which is roughly when married people start to lean on the corners that separate them instead of bonding over the things they have in common, but also, it doesn’t ‘did not finish and she only pretended to, which of course is a double whammy of a physio-psycho-sexual problem.

We know that about Jean-Louis: he plays the piano and is a lawyer, bailiff. He has not spoken to his mother for four years for vague reasons. He is 42 years old and Valéries is five years older than him. And he has no more pulse. No seriously. He breathes and speaks and stands there, but there is no heartbeat. He notices it one day when the treadmill indicates BPM 000. He confides in Michel (Vincent Macaigne), his closest friend since childhood, who confirms to him that, yes, he is dead but not dead, but what does he know, he’s just a vet.

As Michel prepares to take Jean-Louis to the hospital for examinations, Valérie comes home. Their intention was not to tell her because they preferred to take the path of the scientific doctor rather than his crazy wheat germ “well-being” Bolognese: she is one of those people who “fondle vegetables” and “take lessons. d’ocarina, ”Michel gets on his nerves. Valérie locks Jean-Louis in the house and hides the key, which is a vanity that works because they’re in France, I guess. So he confesses. She presses her wrist and places her hand on his chest. Nothing. She takes her to her mystical guru, Margaux (Nicole Garcia), who talks about her “cosmic heart” (Outer. SPACE!) That is if she sees her mother’s vagina. Doesn’t need to be in person, a photo would work.

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Photo: Netflix

What movies will this remind you of? : Lars von Trier has made a comedy before – yes, a comedy! – called The boss of everything which has a similar feeling that you’re only going to get by with this in Europe.

Performances to watch: Viard – a veteran absurdist dating back to the exquisite black comedy of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Mark Caro deli – is sublimely nutty like a strange loon bubbling under a well-assembled facade.

Memorable dialogue: Margaux: “Show me the source, Jean-Louis.

Gender and skin: Lots of equal opportunities right in the face, since such things are demanded by one of Jean-Louis, Valérie and Michel’s insane schemes to get a Polaroid of the private parts of an 82-year-old woman.

Our opinion : Dear mother travels the type of uncomfortable territory – some Oedipal, others purely surreal – that will make them squirm, fidget and / or struggle while clutching their pearls. It crosses a line or two in bad taste, but please note that “bad taste” is not the same as “no taste” which is unnecessary in its offensive nature. I believe Lafitte and screenwriter Sebastian Thiery aim to undermine the pseudoscience of the “wellness” industry, the Goops and the like, with razor-sharp satire, using a weirdly endearing midlife crisis storyline as a basis. Not all jokes come in, but tonally, this thing is so offbeat, so deeply psychotic, it’s hard not to admire it.

In one of the first scenes, Lafitte makes a point of establishing the lifestyle of Jean-Louis and Valérie in a series of stills of their many very beautiful things inside their very beautiful house, all the stuff matched with miserable and have everything and, with their food and shelter needs met dozens of times, are looking for something a little more than the bodily. Something “spiritual”, perhaps, something that you don’t see but which is also quite expensive but nevertheless affordable for people with their comfortable cachet. So savor the irony of a man with a dead heart showing his real self as he tries to revive it by violating the sanctity of his own mother via a series of ridiculous manipulations that involve all kinds of things that don’t say to the poor woman the truth – a truth which is nothing like the truth, but a higher order hokum.

All of this requires Jean-Louis to manipulate his otherwise reasonable friend to help him, as Michel has failed in a lot of things, but doesn’t want to fail in saving his best friend’s life. Valerie accepts it, of course, because she subscribes to the hokum and would double the price in the face of something that looks like legitimate scientific evidence to the contrary. And so Lafitte sometimes makes us deeply uncomfortable, sometimes because we are both laughing and appalled. The idea crossed my mind that Jean-Louis could have categorically told his mother that she could save his life by simply lifting his skirt up so he could take a quick photo, and she could just oblige. Again, she’s part of a generation that just got their damn beatings and didn’t even know what colloidal silver was. has been.

Or maybe the movie is really fucking with us.

Our call: Dear mother is an always entertaining comedy designed to challenge sensibilities. STREAM IT, even if it’s not for the weak.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more about his work at

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