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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Motherhood (review)

There are nice touches of what makes New York uniquely New York in this should-be-charminger little film, and they’re things that rarely get acknowledged onscreen. The awkward realities of living in a walkup apartment… six flights up. The daily dance of “alternate-side parking.” The true small-town, neighborhoody feel of the city. It’s too bad that writer-director Katherine Dieckmann couldn’t imbue her portrait of the titular state in this place with as much easy, authentic panache. It’s a day in the life for Uma Thurman’s (The Producers) crazy-busy stay-at-home mom on the especially busy day when she’s getting ready for her daughter’s sixth birthday party, and it’s all juggling the million things a mom needs to do for her family while also trying to grab a few minutes for herself. In a few brief moments, Thurman’s Eliza springs to life — a delivery from a messenger turns into an impromptu party on its own — but it’s not Thurman’s fault that those moments are few and far between. I hadn’t quite hit on what was wrong till the end of the film, when Eliza’s husband (Anthony Edwards: Zodiac) asks her what kind of passion she wants in her life, and she cannot answer that question. And I realized that Dieckmann doesn’t have an answer for her character, either. It all feels like a lot of treading water to get to what should have been the opening moments of the film… and then it’s over.


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MPAA: rated PG-13 for language, sexual references and a brief drug comment

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
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