By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Sophie Lowe, and Jessica Tovey
Imagine a poorly conceived Sex And The City episode that takes place in Australia, and you pretty much have the gist of what Two Mothers is. A miscalculated attempt to at times pull our heart-strings and others describe how MILFy Watts and Wright are, Two Mothers wastes one tremendous performance by someone who has slipped under the radar, and one pretty good performance by a consistent pro. Wright and Watts play Roz and Lil respectfully, two childhood friends who are going through late middle adulthood without the men they thought they were going to spend the rest of their lives with. Lil’s dies and Roz’s (Mendelsohn, from The Place Beyond The Pines) is not only on the outs with his wife, but also out on a new job at Sydney University. And you know what they say about what happens when the cat’s away? Before the two women know it, both Lil and Roz start relationships with each others’ on the cusp of adulthood sons.
If you are creeped out by this concept, don’t be. Because as taboo as Two Mother’s storyline is, the real crime is how stupidly it is handled. Remember how Bruce Willis, after breaking up with Demi Moore, was seen out and about with Demi and her new love at the time Ashton Kutcher, always giving him his endorsement? The weird feelings I felt while seeing this endorsement were the same exact ones I felt while watching scenes such as every character in the film having a good time frolicking and drinking on the beach. It is a film that has too mellow to be melodrama. And it is sad, because Wright is actually very good in it. Watts brings a good performance as well, but her character isn’t given the explanations for her actions that Wright’s is. However, their exchanges toward the middle of the film are poignant, and keep the film from going overboard with stupidity. Samuel and Frecheville, playing the teenage sons that are friends to each other and lovers to their moms, are good enough in their roles. But director Anne Fontaine (who swears that The Grandmothers, the short story on which Two Mothers is based, is a true story) decides instead to shoot them as if they came straight from a Nicolas Sparks novel.
If there is anything the film handles decently, it is the after effects of the May-December romances. Tom (Frecheville) meets Mary (Tavoy) who is more his age and has more in common. The inner conflict he experiences while in this relationship is not handled that well, but it is much better than the majority of the film. Especially the final third, in which I laughed more than once at unintentionally funny situations. What is done almost perfectly is the film’s pallet. Christophe Beaucarne’s lush cinematography fills the film with warm colors that accentuate the good feelings exchanged between each of the film’s characters. Also, the flashbacks and forwards are not just there for show, as they do a nice job of outlining what goes on in both Lil and Roz’s mind at any given moment. This helps us not feel as alienated as a Carrie Bradshaw fantasy.But in the end, Two Mothers is a film wrought with tension and filled with conflict. Conflict concerning which friend has to admit that the only things they have in common are the ages of their two sons and the feelings each one has for them. The romances each one has did nothing in terms of breaking taboos, but a lot in boring me to tears. I can go along with any drama, even if it is melodramatic. But when I see performances like those of both Watts and Wright wasted in such badly written fare as this, I just want to tell them to stop with the accepting of scripts with soul-searching drama that is devoid of any soul.
2 out of 5