D

Motherhood

There aren’t too many downsides to the democratizing effects of the Internet. Everyone can have a voice, via blogs or Twitter or comment boards. And sometimes it seems like everyone’s voice has found its way onto the Internet. But the nice thing about blogs filled with inane observations and Twitter feeds mired in mundanity is how easy they are to ignore. All those people in love with their own voices, even though they have nothing to say? Just click past them. Unless, of course, one happens to be the protagonist of a movie you’re watching. Then the choice disappears.

Given how movies lock viewers into their worlds for 90 minutes or so, they are in some ways the anti-Internet, which might be why they’ve had a hard time making the sight of a character tapping away at a keyboard compelling. (Witness this year’s Julie & Julia, which would have been a much better movie without half its title.) At the very least, writer-director Katherine Dieckmann (Diggers) deserves credit for committing fully to the experience of bringing a dull blog to life with Motherhood, which follows a day in the life of a harried stay-at-home mom and fiction-writer-turned-blogger (Uma Thurman) as she negotiates the difficulties of a Greenwich Village existence that includes two kids, an aged dog, a cluttered walk-up, an easily distracted husband (Anthony Edwards), and a city that doubles as an obstacle course of discourtesy. 

That isn’t a bad idea for a movie, necessarily, especially if it found a little critical distance from its slice of life. Sadly, Motherhood doesn’t recognize that Thurman’s character deals in leaden pith, not retweetable bon mots, and Dieckmann fails to notice that Thurman doesn’t have the comic chops for the material—she comes off more like a self-pitying loser than a witty, put-upon everywoman. And in spite of the film’s title, her character barely has any meaningful interactions with her children; she dutifully shuttles them to school or the playground without engaging them much along the way. The film treats the responsibilities of parenthood like another film would treat cancer, as a dream-killing condition to be endured until it passes or kills you. As a contraceptive device, that works brilliantly.

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