screenplay by Hanif Kureishi
directed by Roger Michell
by Bill Chambers The latest from Roger Michell, The Mother seems die cut for Stephen Frears (it was scripted by Hanif Kureishi, author of Frears's My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid), and one can imagine it having attracted Ken Loach or Mike Leigh with only minor tweaks. If we're not exactly stuck with Michell, he's florid in a way that Frears is not and in a way The Mother does not call for; the movie's look, though attractive in and of itself, is a syntax error. From the three Michell pictures I've seen (Titanic Town (which I barely remember), Notting Hill (which I like), and Changing Lanes (which I really like)), the director's specialty seems to be equalizing peculiar material through dynamic imagery, thus imbuing it with commercial appeal. It's a phenomenal talent, but one that betrays him on The Mother by making glib the film's subject matter. In Michell's hands, a relatively working-class set of characters becomes incongruously bourgeois through sensuous camera moves and catalogue-ready tableaux accentuated by not only walls of Kubrickian white, but also a decidedly 'upscale' piano score.