Mother's Boys

(Yves Simoneau, USA, 1994)


One of the defining characteristics of exploitation cinema is the tendency to take a currently successful formula, and then juice the basic story for every intrigue it can possibly offer, quite regardless of whether the end result makes much sense.

Mother's Boys works in this way. Essentially it offers yet another variation on those seminal thrillers of 1987, The Stepfather and Fatal Attraction.

Jude (Jamie Lee Curtis, vamping it up) left her husband and three sons three years ago. Although someone mutters something about her "hormonal turbulence" during this period, Jude's reasons for leaving are no concern of this film. All that matters is that she is back, a vengeful psychotic who wants her Perfect Family no matter whom she has to kill.

Very soon the plot intrigues begin multiplying. The sudden, violent rage of her husband Robert (Peter Gallagher) – what's behind those steely eyes? The near-autistic silence and brooding of the eldest son, Kes (Luke Edwards) – what hereditary madness looms there? To top it all off, a disturbing deathbed encounter between Jude and her mother (Vanessa Redgrave), and an even weirder bath scene between Jude and Kes, hint at hidden traumas of child abuse underlying everything we see.

None of it adds up, but that's par for the course with this kind of shamelessly opportunistic and spectacular movie. Director Yves Simoneau (Ignition, 2001) gives the script (by Barry Schneider, who wrote Curtis Harrington's Ruby [1977]) a good deal of surface gloss, marshalling stylish set designs and many low-angle, quick-fire tracking shots in the manner of Spielberg.

Besides, any movie in which Vanessa Redgrave is made to chant repeatedly the sensational words "Wicked man – poor girl – great sin!" has got to be worth a look.

© Adrian Martin December 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
home    reviews    essays    search