Ma Mère

Rated NC-17 2005

A French Spanking the Monkey, only darker and more calculated. A gorgeous, apparently unhinged mother (Helène, played by Isabelle Huppert) inducts her teenage son (Pierre, played by Louis Garrel) into a life of near-constant sex and submission, coupled with an ungodly dose of mindfuck. All of the seemingly random pornography, sadomasochism, and incest in this Christophe Honore film makes sense when you realize that it's based on the novel by Georges Bataille, the philosopher, writer, and publisher who espoused the quest for transcendence with God through the intensity of experience -- particularly violent sex. At first, Ma Mère is shocking and even alluring, but it doesn't take long for the conceit to wear thin, especially since the characters so rarely act as recognizable humans. When Helène drags her son through 10 kinds of mud and then pleads for him to love her as she is (someone who, for instance, forces others to commit heinous acts), it makes a kind of philosophical sense, but real-life emotions have long since left the building.

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