At once global in scope and intimate in its focus, Mammoth marks the English-language debut of Swedish writer/director Lukas Moodysson. The filmmaker's previous dramas -- Lilya 4-Ever, Together, and F**king Amal -- have been praised for their intimate depictions of relationships. However, with Mammoth, Moodyson mistakes depression and dullness for depth with a script that features few surprises in its scenarios.
Mammoth stars indie favorites Gael Garcia Bernal (Babel) and Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy) as a happily married couple living in New York City. Though Leo's job as a successful website creator and Ellen's work as a surgeon in an emergency room keep them apart, they show real affection in their everyday interactions, especially with their eight-year-old daughter, Jackie (Sophie Nyweide). With both her parents in demanding full-time jobs, Jackie is very close to her Filipino nanny, Gloria (Marife Necesito). On the other side of the world, Gloria's own children are in the Philippines with their grandmother, struggling with Gloria's absence. As Mammoth progresses, the distance between parents and children grows, particularly when Leo's work takes him to Thailand to sign a major contract for his growing business. Predictably, Leo's trip brings him into contact with the country's famed temptations, and the audience wonders how long he can resist. Meanwhile, Ellen desperately tries to save a young patient who is a victim of abuse.
Though Mammoth is set in three countries -- the United States, Thailand, and the Philippines -- it remains focused on just a few characters. The relationships between parents and children -- and how these are affected by modern life -- are the primary focus, but the film places some emphasis on the struggles of marriage as well. Mammoth seems to invent new obstacles for its characters as though they are Job and Moodysson is the Old Testament version of God. However, as sad as the circumstances in Mammoth can be, they're more likely to elicit frustrated sighs from the audience than tears. Moodysson is working with top-notch talent here, particularly with Garcia Bernal, Williams, and director of photography Marcel Zyskind, but even strong performances and fine visuals can't overcome the film's script, which lacks subtlety and nuance.
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- Released: 2009
- Rating: NR
- Review: At once global in scope and intimate in its focus, Mammoth marks the English-language debut of Swedish writer/director Lukas Moodysson. The filmmaker's previous dramas -- Lilya 4-Ever, Together, and F**king Amal -- have been praised for their intimate depi… (more)