'Mothers and Daughters': Review

By Hunter, Allan | Screen International, May 2, 2016 | Go to article overview

'Mothers and Daughters': Review


Hunter, Allan, Screen International


Dir. Paul Duddridge. US. 2016. 90 mins

"Really?" shrieks Cristina Ricci's incredulous Becca on receiving the latest bombshell about her complicated lineage. Mothers And Daughters is the kind of film where characters are constantly aghast at risible revelations that the audience can second guess with ease.

This tearjerking ensemble is jam-packed with unwanted pregnancies, an unexpected multi-million dollar legacy and enough random encounters to sustain the most melodramatic of daytime soap-operas. The whole, unconvincing enterprise seems much more suited to a rainy afternoon small screen matinee where the veteran cast (Sharon Stone, Mira Sorvino, Courteney Cox etc ) may hold more of an allure than in the theatrical arena. The all-American sentimentality on display will restrict international interest.

Photographer Rigby Gray (Selma Blair) is the first character we encounter in a random collection of (exclusively) white women struggling with big emotional issues. Haute couture bra designer Georgina (Mira Sorvino) has long buried skeletons that are about to start rattling around in her closet. Becca (Ricci) refuses to speak to her mother Beth (Courteney Cox) after the death of her grandmother. Layla (Alexandra Daniels) is at loggerheads with her wealthy, ambitious mother Nina, played by Sharon Stone in the imperious manner of a late career Joan Crawford. Gayle (Eva Amurri Martino) hasn't spoken to her mother Millie (Susan Sarandon) in two years but is now desperately seeking family money to finance her boyfriend's cake business.

The clash between parental expectations and individual aspirations lies at the heart of many of the individual stories. The problems of honest communication between daughters and mothers is a constant theme which means that a good deal of the film unfolds in visually unappealing Skype conversations, tearful phonecalls and old-fashioned letters being read aloud by a third party. …

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