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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ?
Beautiful but disturbing is all I can say really. A film that covers all sorts of perversions, though mainly the sado-masochistic kind. I bought this film purely because of my obsession with Louis Garrel, not really knowing what the film was about but I'm glad I watched it, it took me a while to decide how I felt about it, It lingered in my mind for days and I think if a...
Published 23 months ago by Thalia

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147 of 162 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A film for Huppert fans only
A film which, like "Emmanuelle" (1974), features beautiful people in sultry settings, challenging the proscriptions of social mores, "Ma Mère" differs in its narrative sophistication and intellectual arrogance. Isabelle Huppert plays a mother, perhaps past her prime, but still beautiful, elegant, eminently desirable, and sufficiently rich to be bored with the need...
Published on 9 July 2005 by Budge Burgess


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147 of 162 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A film for Huppert fans only, 9 July 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Kilmarnock, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
A film which, like "Emmanuelle" (1974), features beautiful people in sultry settings, challenging the proscriptions of social mores, "Ma Mère" differs in its narrative sophistication and intellectual arrogance. Isabelle Huppert plays a mother, perhaps past her prime, but still beautiful, elegant, eminently desirable, and sufficiently rich to be bored with the need to concern herself with life's trivia.
Her adulterous husband dies, her son (Louis Garrel) returns from boarding school. They inhabit a lotus eating world in the Canaries. Huppert tires of her sexual experimentation with her own mistress and becomes consumed with desire for her boy. She begins by allowing other women to seduce him, coyly watching, gradually being drawn in to more physical contact.
It's beautifully filmed, beautifully performed - Isabelle Huppert is outstanding in pretty much anything she does - but you're left wondering what was the point. In fact you find yourself fast forwarding past the sex scenes in frantic search of a story or meaning. Given the quality of the production, you wonder why these resources were squandered on a pretentious shocker and not on the making of a film with real significance.
Director Christophe Honore has been compared to Catherine Breillat, but "Ma Mère" is a superficial effort to push the boundaries compared to the humanistic sophistication of Breillat. If this is an attempt to demonstrate that Western consumerism and wealth have sanitised us to emotion and feeling, cast us adrift in an anomic state desperate for both meaning and sensation, then it might have been better to explore the themes by setting the story in a run-down tenement block, making the poverty of consumerism that more emphatic. As it stands, "Ma Mère" has its moments, but moves with too turgid a pace to fully engage your sympathy, your attention, or your willingness to believe that it has any significance in exploring human interaction and relationships.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ?, 13 May 2012
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This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
Beautiful but disturbing is all I can say really. A film that covers all sorts of perversions, though mainly the sado-masochistic kind. I bought this film purely because of my obsession with Louis Garrel, not really knowing what the film was about but I'm glad I watched it, it took me a while to decide how I felt about it, It lingered in my mind for days and I think if a film can leave that much of an impression on you then it must be worth watching.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Ms Huppert's finest hour, 15 May 2011
By 
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a big fan of Isabelle Huppert - but this not her finest hour.

There are multiple problems with this film, but the dominant one (pun intended!) is motivation. Or total lack of. Characters just do things without the screenwriter or director telling us why; there is no psychological insight. In some films / situations this wouldn't matter but given the highly perverse nature of the 'action' this is a serious omission. So what might have been erotic or challenging simply becomes bizarre - or worse - deeply unpleasant to watch because we have no idea why the characters are behaving as they do. If a mother has an incestuous relationship with her son, the least I feel I'm owed is some kind of explanation!

I'm sure the film is meant to be a metaphor for something or an existential exploration of sexual mores but in this it fails too. Instead I felt it was indulgent and obscure with a big dollop of pretension. The Happy Together scene at the end might have been comic if I wasn't so thoroughly distasteful.

Despite these criticisms, the one positive is the wonderful Ms Huppert. Even with this poor material she totally dominates the screen (pun again intended) with her unassuming but potent charisma. The film is even poorer when she vanishes in the middle act with Rea. Instead of this film, I would recommend you see either Violette or the Piano Teacher - much more interesting and satisfying movies.
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75 of 87 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The only thing profound about this is how awful it is., 13 Dec 2007
By 
James the King (...under the stairs) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!, 3 Jan 2009
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
I seem to remember there was much hype over this, but I found it a bit of a boring grind, and never even watched it all the way through.

The saying 'Don't believe the hype' applies quite well here. There is much better out there for 'powerful...explicit and shocking'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars probably better on the page, 4 Jan 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
Christophe Honoré has transcribed Georges Bataille's text from the brothel of the early twentieth century to the Canary Islands, 2005, and I wonder if this really works, particularly in view of the extreme unpleasantness of much of the story which also loses out, you imagine, in being taken off the page. Showing us the events makes them both colder and more real, less a product of the imagination than Bataille intended. I haven't read this text but The Story of the Eye gives a sense of this - that one would be completely unfilmable. Honore is interviewed in the extras and has interesting things to say, without facing the essence of what his film shows, its sheer awfulness.

As I understand it, Bataille seemed to view the erotic as tragic, the essence of life it contains as being horrific and obscene, and that this truth, like a black sun, can only be glimpsed through transgression. It is an aesthetic position as much as a philosophical one, and Honore certainly finds an equivalent visual language. For me, the film is torn between this horror and the aesthetic interest it may have, and to a large extent a voyeuristic one, focusing on Louis Garrel and his incredible face and body. He was certainly very brave to take on this role, and a sequence of him walking nude from behind shows some other essence of the erotic in the movement of his bottom than Bataille intends, for me at least. In fact the way he is presented throughout shows this - I read a warmth into his presence that clashes monumentally with the film's projected meaning. Joana Preiss is also amazingly good, her kiss on Garrel's rear end all too understandable, but I would see it in playful terms, not the far-out obscenity the film tries to crank it up as, with the public location, the mother looking on, the previous taxi sequence etc. It then goes off in more and more nasty directions, with one young man being horribly beaten in a way that doesn't really make sense outside of Bataille's text, his punisher then dissolving into floods of tears, although she has done it repeatedly ...

What holds it together - just - is the remarkable, enigmatic projection of Isabelle Huppert, who convinces you of everything at the time it is happening, and seems to be a beacon shedding light on the film's vision - a black beacon, of course ... I can't imagine any other actress able to access such an extreme state as convincingly, and her slender form carries a great deal of weight, as well as contrasting beautifully with the bulky beauty of Garrel. Every scene he is in is guaranteed to give some pleasure in looking, whatever else may be going on. His particular qualities are fortunately present in other Honore films, even if this is the most graphic. Interestingly, Honoré shot another more recent film specifically about the erotic - Homme au Bain - using the porn actor Francois Sagat, and the underlying philosophy has none of the anguish that so dogs this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ma Mere, 10 Jun 2013
By 
Mr. Brian Peter Hammond (Kent England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
One of the worst films ever seen on my TV and I have watched a lot of rubbish in my time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars merci, 24 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
dont know about the shocking sex stuff I just found the script and storyline and acting so shocking I turned it off before any kinky stuff started I was falling asleep . Why do so many french films think they are clever to speak silly artistic cliches re philosophy / art etc as if they are stoned 17 year olds in sixth form . And why do so many french actors just pout and sulk and toss their head in such an affected way .Huppert is so ridiculously thin , this is a rubbish old fashioned attempt to shock . I shall just stick to other world cinema in future [ spanish for sexy fun , south america for honesty and scandi for quality ].
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A challenging film?, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
Ma Mere is another exploring, indeed probing French film. It seems to be dealing with three challenges. First is the sensual mother. She loves her teenage son to the point of wanting him to experience the edges of erotic pleasure. The thing is, she wants to watch as well. The second challenge seems to be her own need for yet more. She leaves her son to experience other things, with her younger `femme fatale'. Yet he is not left alone; the final challenge. A companion is provided for him. Over time, revelations emerge. The film concludes with a consummation; one that will shake some and bemuse others. Yet, that is what challenging cinema is supposed to do, I think. At the very least, it illustrates some of the contortions of love.

Ian Hunter.
Author of `e-Love'.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An empty experience, 27 Feb 2008
By 
This review is from: Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
"Powerful, explicit, and shocking" says the blurb on the front of the DVD case and I suppose there's a case to be made for one of those. Ma Mere is the story of Pierre, a sullen little git who has been away from home at boarding school, who goes to live with his mother and father in an idyllic Canary Island locale. His father soon dies on a trip to visit his mistress leaving Pierre (Louis Garrel) alone with his mother for what seems to be the first time in his life.

As happens all the time (of course) Pierre's mother Helene (Isabelle Hupert) begins to fancy the pants off of the mopey seed of her loin and immediately sets her friends to bang the hell out of him to (presumably) remove the temptation from her. The film that follows is a jumble of poorly explained scenes and bizarre character decisions that make no sense whatsoever. Neither of the main characters are remotely likable, Helene claims to love her son but systematically abuses him in a number of ways throughout, and you're just willing Pierre to get a haircut and smile for most of the movie (in fairness to Garrel's interpretation of the character its hinted at throughout that he is suffering from depression at least, and possibly some more severe psychological problems). Some of the supporting characters are also none too pleasant, especially Helene's friend/mistress Réa (Joanna Priess) who may be one of the most dislikeable characters I have ever come across in a film. On the plus side both leads are attractive in their own ways, Huppert oozes an older woman sensuality while Garrel's big eyes and pale skin give him a strange allure. The central performances are fine as well, given the dross they have to work with.

Aside from the plot (such as it is) the blurb I started this review with is half the problem. The movie is trying far to hard to be "powerful, explicit, and shocking". About half way through it settles down to a nice little romantic relationship between Pierre and one of the girls his mother has sicced on him. This is completely thrown away by an over the top S&M scene with no valid explanation. Explicit certainly, there's willies and boobies a plenty and the aforementioned scene is definitely explicit in its own way. Powerful is another matter, the whole thing is so nonsensical and ill-explained that you have no idea how or why its meant to affect you so it can't really be powerful and shocking. It's so utterly self-obsessed that its like a child swearing in the playground it's trying so completely to shock that it just looks silly.

There's enough to recommend this film to really make its overall rankness so frustrating. The movie is gorgeous to look at, shot through a sunny haze with beautiful people and, as stated above, good performances. It's just a pity Ma Mere is so wilfully attempting to be daring with the incest angle and the sillier sex and sexual dialogue. There are far better films exploring the idea of an older woman falling for a young man because he reminds her of her lost youth and beauty and these generally achieve this without having to make them blood relations. Do what I did though, watch to make your own mind up, but then prepare to be disappointed.
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Ma Mere [2005] [DVD]
Ma Mere [2005] [DVD] by Christophe Honoré (DVD - 2005)
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