Monday, September 12, 2011

MAMMOTH

Cine Europa 14
Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex



Swedish director Lukas Moodysson presents this interwoven drama about the effects of globalization. The film is in English with some dialogue in Filipino and the Thai language. Scenes were shot in New York City, the Philippines and Thailand. It stars two actors (Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams) known for their acting skills.

Video game designer Leo (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his ER surgeon wife Ellen (Michelle Williams) live in New York with their 8 year-old daughter Jackie, who is cared for by a Filipino nanny named Gloria. When Leo leaves for a business trip to Thailand, Ellen encounters a particularly bad case at work and realizes that the bond between Jackie and Gloria is stronger than she thought. Meanwhile, Gloria desperately misses her two sons in the Philippines. While Leo experiences culture shock in Thailand.

The plight of mothers forced to neglect their children so they can support them is familiar and quite depressing. Most filmmakers working in fiction tend to ignore this kind of struggle unless they can use it for melodrama or tragedy.

And Moodysson does use it for major blunt effect by taking on a preachy tone with much philosophical and moral angst hovering over his characters. By grossly exaggerating his characters' constructions, he forgoes any real ideas about the world's vast inequities and he is simply content to pummel his audience with portentous global guilt-tripping.

The film is less obsessed with coincidence and more interested in the ways people from various cultures connect, or don’t quite connect, in everyday situations. And there certainly was a huge amount of disconnect in this film. There was no chemistry among the cast. I was also hugely disappointed that the plot fell flat on its face. I kept expecting something explosive to happen and it never did.

And please don't get me started on how the Philippines was portrayed in this film, it would simply make my blood boil, so let's leave it at that!

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