Firstly, let me make it perfectly clear that, unlike 9 out of 10 negative reviews I have read for this atrocity, my objection to the film is not a moral one.
Undoubtedly, you have read dozens of comments about how this is an amoral, pernicious insult to human decency. The crux of this review is to say that this would be to give the film far too much credit.
'Ma Mere' just smacks of this self-conscious effort to be disturbing, to be offensive, to be shocking. It failed to disturb, offend or shock me, for the simple reason that I could not find any reason whatsoever for anything that happened in this film.
In a nutshell, Louis Garrel discovers that his father was a philandering scumbag. Daddy then dies, and little Louis finds out that his mother is basically a hooker. He doesn't really seem the least bit perturbed by this, and happily goes off with Mummy to indulge in the same debauchery as she does. She treats him appallingly, her "friends" treat him appallingly, yet - for reasons known only to screenwriter, director and pretentious twit extraordinaire Christophe Honore - he still hangs out with them all. What, pray tell, is the point of the film? That the human condition is foulsome, depressing, self-destructive and disgusting? Well, duh!
As I have said, this film seems to go out of its way to be offensive, under the guise of a film that is merely observing offensive people. I watched the film on DVD and was particularly amused by Honore and the formerly lovely Emma de Caunes trying to convince me in a supplementary interview that "none of the sex is gratuitous" and that "every sex scene serves a purpose". Give me a break! 'Last Tango in Paris' (which, for the record, I think is a stunning film) had a point, but this!?! Among my favourite examples of how self-consciously foulsome this dollop is, are the scene where one of Mere's friends sticks her finger up Garrel's arse and then Mummy dutifully sniffs it, and the scene where Emma de Caunes sticks her hand up her "still dripping" womanhood and wipes it onto Garrel's chest.
"Wow! That's, like, so profound", I hear you say. My sentiments precisely.
Beyond this, none of the characters make any sense, least of all our main protagonist. Garrel is treated like crap but still loves (yes, loves) his mother. He fires their servants for *no reason what-so-ever*, he dupes some poor German kid into being hogtied and whipped for *no reason what-so-ever*, he falls in love with Emma de Caunes for *no reason what-so-ever*. It's just completely ludicrous. It's as if a ten year old with a boner wrote the script. This is the kind of film that Beavis & Butthead would enjoy.
I ask you, Honore, who am I supposed to identify with? Failing that, in whom am I supposed to invest any emotional interest? I simply did not give a hoot about anyone in this movie and, thus, could not have cared less about anything that was happening. Didn't they teach you that in film school? I know the French New Wave threw the book out of the window, but surely some of the rules still stand? Apparently not...
I repeat, I have no moral objection to this pile of steaming cinematic turd, but I simply could not find a point to any of it. My girlfriend found it "intensely boring", which I felt was unfair to boredom. Indeed, it does not relent form trying to be shocking/poignant long enough for it to get boring. I actually held the faith - right until the final frame, when Garrel falls to the ground beside his mother's coffin and starts masturbating - I held the faith that the point of the past two hours would be revealed. Then the credits rolled.
All this film does that is of any note is to go so far up its own arse that is almost comes off as parody. It would be hilarious if it were such an insult to basic human social intelligence. It's a shame Honore didn't realise that before releasing the film, or we could have been looking at the funniest film since 'Airplane'.
Sadly, instead we are looking at the most pretentious (and I hardly ever use that word) film since someone handed Asia Argento a camera.