My Mother Likes Women

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My Mother Likes Women

Director: Inés París, Daniela Fejerman
Runtime: 93 minutes
Cast: Leonor Watling, Rosa María Sardà, Eliska Sirová

The title of Inés París and Daniela Fejerman's slight comedy My Mother Likes Women sounds like the beginning of a Jerry Springer episode, and the movie doesn't disappoint on that front. The opening could easily take place on a stage flanked by neckless bouncers: When middle-aged divorcée Rosa María Sardà announces that she has someone special in her life, her three grown daughters buzz with excitement, happy that their mother has finally moved on with her life. And this "person" happens to be right backstage! No, she's not a two-headed hermaphrodite, but she's the next worst thing: a hip Czech lesbian more than 20 years Sardà's junior. Jaws drop, one daughter hyperventilates, and the movie is off and running through several harebrained schemes to set the universe back in order again.

Heavily inspired by Pedro Almodóvar's signature cocktail of sprightly comedy and over-the-top soap opera, My Mother Likes Women lacks the necessary outrageousness and perversion, to say nothing of Almodóvar's stylistic chops. All that's left is the feminine hysteria. Though the three daughters react in different ways—the eldest worries about her husband and young son, the youngest writes a pop song about her mother's belly getting licked—the film focuses on Leonor Watling, a neurotic basket-case who works herself into a lather. Conspiring with her sisters, Watling contrives a plan to sabotage their mother's relationship by seducing her lover, but things get complicated when she finds herself genuinely interested in the woman.

Wrapped up in all the manic plotting and comic freak-outs lies a predictable message of sexual openness and tolerance, but embracing alternative families isn't exactly a radical stance for a contemporary arthouse movie. My Mother Likes Women zips along on smooth formula plotting and some energetic performances, but its farcical elements have the tepid rhythm of a bad situation comedy, with silly misunderstandings and embarrassing moments that could have easily been avoided. A late sojourn to Prague and a double wedding suggest what might have happened had París and Fejerman loosened up, taking chances instead of playing it safe every time. These days, the idea of a lesbian mother isn't nearly shocking enough to shatter monocles.