Motherhood calls for a new content rating from the MPAA: PG-V. This would stand for, “Must be accompanied by a vagina.” Without one, Motherhood will seemingly never have a purpose, a point, or a tone that fits, leaving those without vaginas lost and confused as to why this movie exists.
Those with a vagina may be able to relate to an overstressed mother named Eliza (Uma Thurman) on this one day in her life. She is trying to prep for her daughter’s sixth birthday, write a blog, deal her with her husband, pick up her son, console upset friends, take out the dog, find a parking spot, flirt with the delivery guy, fight against a film crew, take care of an elderly neighbor, fix a flat tire on a bike, and find her calling as a career writer.
That’s all in one day.
Most people would be suicidal by that point, but Eliza just tries to skip town in an emotional breakdown. There’s no question it is tough, but also completely unbelievable. If you’re having one of those days, cutting down on the blogging about personal secrets shared by your friends might help you buy some time. Eliza freaks out over everything, getting into a shouting match with a guy in line in front of her over cell phone usage. Note to Eliza: The guy was right. Having a non-essential cell phone conversation in someone’s personal space is annoying.
It is hard to place Motherhood, with the trailers picking up on all of the comedic moments. However, the film meshes genres, rather unsuccessfully. The comedy is never very funny, the drama comes off as whiney, and the romance is pointless. Her fling with the delivery man does not evolve her character or lower her stress. In fact, afterwards is when Eliza has her breakdown. She tells her husband about it later (Anthony Edwards), and the entire thing is dropped.
Much of the dialogue has an exposition feel to it. Eliza has a confrontation with a roofer in the middle of a traffic jam where she explains her woes, her job, and her life. At least this complete stranger (and audience) is up to date on her daily going-ons. Unfortunately, neither the guy in the truck nor the audience actually care enough about her parking spot. Even Lifetime would think twice about airing this one. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]
This is bland, flat movie to look at, restrained in all regards. Presented in 1080i, Motherhood looks like it was shot for TV. Black levels are not a factor, as there are none. Everything settles into a murky gray, robbing the image of depth. Colors are bland and lifeless. Flesh tones move into a slight orange tint, minor enough in comparison to the other issues that it can be ignored.
Artifacting tends to be common, sporadically noticeable on solid walls and color gradients. Grain is minimal, and at times completely absent. It is not much of a surprise to see faces take on a waxy, digital look at a distance. In close, the filtered lighting style and oppressive softness makes this appear like a bad transfer, when in fact it could be intentional.
Facial textures are non-existent regardless. Not a single scene offers a crispness or definition. Contrast appears bland, never reaching a bright white, further adding to the washed out, pale look. Environments are equally as bland, the generally messy home providing no stand out objects that serve as videophile eye candy. Long shots of New York look as if they were shot through a haze. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Video]
Audio suffers from a similar set of problems. Dialogue mostly sounds recorded live, which includes any background noise. As such, it takes on a hollow quality, or maybe a sound similar to a TV show from the late ‘90s.
The minimal soundtrack never reaches a real high end, although a smooth, marginally aggressive low-end is present on a few cues. Some instruments sound lost or buried within the mix.
Some light ambiance at a street level squeezes barely into the surrounds, along with a few other minor directional cues elsewhere. The birthday party at the end is somewhat lively. This is very mundane effort, although this DTS-HD track is probably not being fed the best source material either. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Audio]
Extras include a commentary from writer/director Katherine Dieckman and producer Rachel Cohen, who unfortunately do not comment on the film’s hilariously awful box office run in which eleven people went to go to see the film during its opening weekend. A series of four interviews with the cast and Dieckman follow, running 15-minutes total. Trailers remain. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]