Jamie Lee Curtis, who began her career in genre pictures like HALLOWEEN, decisively returns to familiar turf as the sleek villainess of this flashy but uninspired Oedipal thriller.
Three years after abandoning her family, Jude (Curtis), an unstable victim of childhood trauma, returns home to her husband Robert (Peter Gallagher) and their three young sons. No one, least of all her mother (Vanessa Redgrave), is in a mood to welcome her back. Though her two youngest barely
remember her, oldest son Kes (Luke Edwards) remains disturbed by Jude's abandonment--dissecting a frog in biology class, he turns into a mad slasher when the teacher puts the scalpel in his hand. Robert has belatedly initiated divorce proceedings in order to marry Callie (Joanna Whalley-Kilmer),
the smart, pretty, and loving assistant principal at his sons' school. But Jude refuses to step aside. Threatening legal action, she forces Robert to allow Kes to spend a weekend with her and, using some not-so-motherly wiles, enlists Kes in a plot against Callie--which, unbeknownst to Kes, is
meant to climax with Callie's murder. Jude disables the brakes of Callie's car, but, due to a family emergency, it's Kes who ends up behind the wheel when the brakes fail. The car careens halfway off a cliff and, as it teeters perilously, Callie risks her life to save Kes. Making one last attempt
to kill Callie, Jude is instead thrown to her own death on the rocky shore below.
The irony of MOTHER'S BOYS is that it could have been a first-rate thriller had it been directed in a more straightforward fashion--Joseph Ruben's solid, unpretentious work on THE GOOD SON comes to mind--rather than in the portentously over-angled style favored here by director Yves Simoneau.
(Simoneau makes his American feature debut after helming several well-received TV movies, including CRUEL DOUBT and MEMPHIS, and a Robbie Coltrane comedy in Canada, PERFECTLY NORMAL.) The film begins falling apart once it becomes apparent that all the eerie subjective camera work, jarring
nightmare and dream sequences, and other assorted suspense movie mannerisms are just that--showy mannerisms rather than visual storytelling. The viewer is left to wade through layers of visual obfuscation to get to what emerges as a familiar story line.
Beyond that, however, the script, adapted by Barry Schneider and Richard Hawley from Bernard Taylor's novel, is basically well crafted, and the film is well cast. Curtis's work here is outstanding: she plays Jude with a lip-smacking relish that's hard to resist, turning in a wonderfully detailed
portrayal that effectively goes for screams without ever quite going over the top. The rest of the cast is more than capable--especially Redgrave, who, with masterful ease in her few scenes, manages to seem a more credible mom to Curtis than her real-life mother, Janet Leigh. MOTHER'S BOYS isn't
quite a waste of their talents, but it could have been much better had Simoneau curbed his Hitchcockian stylings and trusted his cast to create a true mood of menace. (Adult situations, violence, profanity, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: Jamie Lee Curtis, who began her career in genre pictures like HALLOWEEN, decisively returns to familiar turf as the sleek villainess of this flashy but uninspired Oedipal thriller. Three years after abandoning her family, Jude (Curtis), an unstable vict… (more)