Directed by: Anne Fontaine | 100 minutes | drama | Actors: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Ben Mendelsohn, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Sophie Lowe, Gary Sweet, Jessica Tovey, Alyson Standen, Charlee Thomas, Scott Pirlo, Dane Eade
‘Two Mothers’ is based on the novella ‘The Grandmothers’ by the acclaimed writer Doris Lessing. The film tells the unconventional story of two best friends, Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright). Lil and Roz have been friends since early childhood. ‘Two Mothers’ takes place on the Australian East Coast, where they live in luxurious, idyllically located, almost paradise beach villas with fantastic sea views. Both have an almost adult son Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville), who are also close friends. Lil is a widow, her son Ian still lives with her. Roz is married to Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) who is taking up an important position at the University of Sydney. However, Roz wants to continue to live in her paradise.
Ian starts flirting with his best friend’s mom. Roz is charmed by him and feels caressed by the attention of this young Apollo. She falls in love with him. Her son Tom witnesses their affair unwillingly and decides to take revenge. Tom tries to hook up with Lil. She initially rejects him, but soon gives up her resistance. The (melo) drama is complete, both boys have a love affair with the mother of the other.
The boys themselves do not struggle at all with the special situation and the two women do not get much further from a moral point of view than to establish that they have crossed a line. That being said, they continue happily. From an ethical point of view, there are few obstacles to be found on all sides. However, it does not stop at a fun game. Both relationships are becoming more and more passionate.
Complications increase when Tom gets a job in town and finds a new girlfriend there, Mary (Jessica Tovey). Hurt feelings of honor, revenge, jealousy, and other emotions prevail. When Lil discovers the cheating, both women want to end the relationship. The complications are now really getting out of hand….
Here are the ingredients for an exciting piece of fiercely realistic drama with a provocative subject. However, it works out according to the classic characteristics of a soap: recognizable emotions with simple storylines. The implementation was not completely successful and at a number of times raises question marks. The dialogues are straightforward from time to time with little attempt at nuance. Emphatically long, sometimes yearning looks and longing faces are not always subtly processed.
The locations in Australia, on the other hand, are magnificent, beautiful pictures taken in beautiful warm colors, there is little to criticize on the camera work. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright’s acting is professional, which keeps the film going. Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville (Ian and Tom) get stuck in the stereotype of the young and virile stallion. The total ultimately remains a bit superficial with not too much psychological depth and the characters do not come to an interpretation. Despite its provocative theme, ‘Two Mothers’ is just a light summer evening film with nothing wrong in itself. With ‘Two Mothers’, director Anne Fontaine (‘Mon pire cauchemar’, ‘Coco avant Chanel’) has made a film that is particularly attractive to the lover of an entertaining, glamorous soap.