‘Mama’s Girl’ review: A world of women
Rome and Juliet (2006), director Connie Macatuno’s last film, is ostensibly a lesbian romance – a tale of two women falling in love with each other amidst societal demands.
It is expectedly replete with tropes that hound tales of forbidden passion. It unduly emphasizes the tragedies of love that is misunderstood, sometimes resorting to melodrama to enunciate the harm inflicted by intolerance. However, it is in its exploration of the repercussions of women being forced to be beholden to antiquated expectations that it truly separates itself from its ilk.
Macatuno’s film is clearly fueled by a woman’s valid impressions of her society under the claws of a stubborn patriarchy.
More than a decade later
Mama’s Girl arrives 10 years after, with Macatuno concentrating on television projects in the interim.
It is definitely a softer film than Rome and Juliet.
It skirts controversial issues to shine a light to more domestic and amiable affairs. Essentially about the relationship of a girl (Sofia Andres) with her doting mother (Sylvia Sanchez), the film casually navigates its way around fragile romances and youthful ambitions that are part and parcel to most coming-of-age tales. While the film holds very little surprises when it comes to its narrative, it nevertheless soldiers on with disarming earnestness.
Macatuno this time is less heavy-handed with the drama. Mama’s Girl is delicate and gentle in its portrayal of personal tragedies. She allows the scenes to breathe, to communicate emotions, whether they be grief or joy, without the conveniences of overtly grand gestures. The film may be perhaps too subtle, sometimes sacrificing briskness for mood, but in the end, it all works by virtue of consistency.
Men and their influences
What is truly unique about Mama’s Girl is its curious world that seems to lack both men and their influences.
With the exception of the protagonist’s love interests, the film is populated mostly by women, who are either strong or getting strong not because of the men in their lives but because of themselves. The film’s many sideplots, whether it be the protagonist’s decision to confront her long lost father or her decision to accompany her grandmother in her belated apology, are grounded on the sins of man-kind.
The film’s resolution isn’t a product of any of the male character’s intervention. If anything, all the male characters of the film feel more like ornaments than integral elements of the plot.
In a sense, the film, without being overt about it, feels like a document on female empowerment, a reflection of an ideal world where women are capable of independently thriving.
Subtle but sincere
Mama’s Girl is hardly a perfect film but its subtle but sincere impressions are worth the price of the ticket. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass. Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.