Pierre comes to live with his parents on the Canary Islands, but he's bored and doesn't enjoy it, and feels like he doesn't belong. A while after his father leaves for a trip, they get a call that he has died in an accident, but Pierre can't feel any sorrow for it. Instead his mother tells him a secret she has kept from him, that she's a hooker, and quickly he gets interested in her mysterious world and starts hanging around with her and her crowd.
I know naught about the director Christophe Honoré and even less about the writer of the original novel, Georges Bataille. I have no idea what their intentions were with this story / movie but I feel that there is something that should be grasped. Some will, some won't. I actually don't know where I'm placed on that black and white scale, but the fact that I don't know is probably one of the reasons that I think this movie could've been stronger than it was. But it has peaked an interested in checking some of the director's other films at some point in the future. And that's not too shabby, is it?
From the get-go we know that something is a bit off about Pierre's parents. And I think he knows it too. He comes to live with them after having been to catholic school. They are based on the Canary Islands, and Pierre just can't seem to enjoy himself there. He walks around in gloom and does little to change it. Until his father dies in an accident and he is left to live with only his mother. They are both taking the death of the father lightly and quickly try to move on. One night she tells him that she's actually a hooker and that he shouldn't respect her - although still love her. This is something that fascinates Pierre rather than disgusts him, and his mother starts showing him her lifestyle and proudly invites him into it. He gets to meet her friends and see the sexual deviant things his mother spends her time with, and experience them first hand. There is constant feeling of an incestous relationship between the two, even though it takes a long time to really established it as a fact.
When I say I don't know if I understood the meaning, I didn't mean that I couldn't find one. It's just hard to say that I found the right one. And there is nothing wrong with not knowing all about a movie, it can still be enjoyable. Very much so. But the thing about "Ma mère" is that it feels very shallow. It would be easy to just watch the movie and think it's slow, boring and at times repulsive. It could just as well be a sexual drama about a mother and her son, but the movie focuses on a wider view of sexuality. It's about people living for the thrill of the sex, always trying to spice things up in their life. Eventually you will run out of things to do, something that Hélène, the mother experiences before the climax of the movie. At the same time we know that Pierre is heading down the same path.
Not by any means a bad movie. I love these off-beat European dramas and by now you should know that. They're always exiting and there are just so many of them that I know I won't run out just yet. "Ma mère" has some really fantastic scenes and the ending alone is powerful enough to watch the movie for. But it just feels like something is missing in the telling of the story. It might have some edgy things going on, but you never feel them. It leaves you kinda empty and that's even after a very powerful ending. It won't take long until you forget about the movie. Which is odd considering how well both Isabelle Huppert and Louis Garrel play their roles.