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How to Manage Your Mother
Understanding the Most Difficult, Complicated, and Fascinating Relationship in Your Life

. "The Mother"

This is about a grieving wife unlike any I've ever seen. The worst part is not the compulsions this woman in her sixties submits to after her husband dies of a sudden heart attack--it's that the destruction her indulgence causes has little to no effect on her.

The shock of loss puts May (Anne Reid) in a quandery about what she wants to do with her life as a widow. Even though her marriage to Toots (Peter Vaughan) was never a fulfilling one, she can't face living alone. She tries, but she returns to the kids in London where she bops between two households.

After a brief stint with son Bobby (Steven Mackintosh), whose upwardly mobile wife makes it clear she's pretty much in the way, May finds shelter with daughter Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw), a mess of emotional insecurity who understands her problems through therapy. She uses the occasion to unload on mom about how bad she was as a parent. But history isn't enough to prevent her asking mom to be a baby sitter so that she can be with the man in her life, Darren (Daniel Craig) nor to ask her to feel him out about his intentions toward her, Paula.

Darren, a contractor, is redoing a room at Bobby's. But May's visits aren't going to be to her daughter's benefit. She's got eyes for the buff lad, herself, and watches him laying tile before she moves on him to take her to the guest room upstairs. The sexual encounter is so good she's soon proposing a vacation together. (What is it about laying tile?)

There's a concerted effort to make the sex scenes tasteful, and so, to let us all in on the extent of the activity, Bobby and Paula discover May's sketches of herself engaged with Daniel in oral occupation. Are pictures a device to explain why he's so accomodating to mother and daughter?

A libidinous cloud may have seduced writer Hanif Kureishi's muse if he thinks this is captivating material and director Roger Michell ("Changing Lanes") may be judging this an empowerment trip for older ladies instead of the study in prurience and betrayal that it is, but I found no attribute in May that could salvage sympathy after such a single-minded and narcissistic demand for gratification. I suggest Kureishi and Michell see Shrek 2 a couple of times before they stain the screen with a mother like this one again.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Anne Reid and Daniel Craig
A compulsion that knows no bounds

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