As much as we all love “discovering” fresh, new talent, there’s something to be said for casting your film with, if you can, movie stars.
They understand, perhaps intuitively, something about the camera, how to leap through the lens, make us forget every other role they’ve played and connect.
Movie star moments light up the otherwise drab ensemble melodrama “Mothers and Daughters,” a soapy serial about a wide range of somewhat inter-connected mothers and daughters and how they relate.
Mira Sorvino, playing a designer of “haute couture brassieres,” will make you a little moist-eyed.
And Susan Sarandon, as a mom still supporting the daughter who can’t be bothered to visit home, will stick with you for laying a little mother-daughter wisdom on us all.
“I needed to have you to teach me to be a daughter to MY mother.”
Christina Ricci and Courteney Cox have too few scenes to make an impact, Sharon Stone, Eva Amurri Martino, Alexandra Daniels and Selma Blair play assorted mothers and daughters (and both) in the film, which covers a lot of variations on motherhood/daughterhood in its 91 minutes.
One woman has just found out she wasn’t raised by her mother, and that her “sister” isn’t exactly her sister. That sister is dealing with some big-time guilt.
Another is living off mom’s cash, supporting her cupcake chef-to-be boyfriend but keeping mom at a distance for some long-ago offense.
Another mother is trying to figure out why her Princeton-educated daughter is waiting tables. That daughter is coping with a dying friend.
One is about to meet the daughter she gave up for adoption long before.
And one woman’s a careerist who discovers she’s pregnant and has to decide what to do.
Paige Cameron’s script attracted two Oscar winners and some pretty big names, but director Paul Duddridge (TV’s “McKenna”) delivers a movie that emotionally flatlines through this material.
Every intersection had the characters take the road more soapy — terminal illnesses, terminal grievances, sexy OB-GYNs, an “abortion” choice that the movies long ago lost the courage to make.
The stories don’t give any of the mother-daughter pairings enough screen time. Cox looks as if she needed a few more weeks off for whatever procedure that’s frozen/deadened her facial muscles to wear off. She looks like a “Real Housewife,” with the plastic to prove it. It’s worth mentioning because it’s distracting enough to make you wince.
Ricci, Sorvino and Blair have been criminally under-employed for years. But there’s little here to make Hollywood make amends for that.
There’s one funny line — “You’re a straight guy who wants to sell pastries in lower Manhattan. Not exactly a slam-dunk.”
Otherwise, “Mothers and Daughters” is drabness on the screen personified, a “Lifetime Original Movie” too unoriginal for Lifetime to want anything to do with it.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic elements and brief drug use
Cast: Selma Blair, Susan Sarandon, Mira Sorvino, Christina Ricci, Sharon Stone, Courteney Cox, Eva Amurri Martino
Credits: Directed by Paul Duddridge, script by Paige Cameron. A Screen Media release.
Running time: 1:31