'Mothers & Daughters' an uneven union

LIZ BRAUN - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:03 AM ET

Mothers & Daughters isn't the greatest movie ever made, but it's got a handful of really terrific performances.

The film involves three connected stories; the first belongs to Micki and her daughter Rebecca. Micki (Babz Chula) is a very successful romance novelist, and Rebecca (Camille Sullivan) is the adult daughter tired of living in her mother's outsized shadow.

Mothers & Daughters begins with Micki giving a reading to her slavish fans. On the periphery is Rebecca, annoyed as hell at spending another night at an event that's all about mom. The scene ends with the two of them having a physical fight.

Next up we meet Brenda (Gabrielle Rose), a middle aged housewife trying to secure a loan at the bank. As Brenda explains that her husband has landed a new job and generally dithers around in front of a bank employee, her daughter Kate (Tiffany Lyndall-Knight) is busy working out at the gym and being as big an over-achiever as possible. Later, Kate will show up with a letter to read to her mother, a letter that explains why dad isn't coming home for dinner tonight or any other night. It's devastating.

Tantoo Cardinal, meanwhile, turns up as an interior designer known as Celine. Celine's daughter isn't around to share the mother/daughter relationship. As well, her grandchild has been adopted and Celine can't find the child. When she takes on a new painting job, she meets a young adopted aboriginal woman (Tinsel Korey) and the two form a unique bond.

Mothers & Daughters is uneven, with some of the stories veering into sitcom territory while others have an unexpected charm. Generally speaking, the storytellers are better than the story -- Babz Chula is funny and frightening as the narcissistic Micki, tossing off bon mots that are always all about her.

As a housewife whose life has taken a really devastating turn, Gabrielle Rose is heartbreakingly good. And Tantoo Cardinal is always terrific, so it seems redundant to mention it -- but she's entirely believable in her earth-mother-ish role here.

Her performance won her a Women In Film award at the Vancouver film fest.

Mothers & Daughters looks at complicated relationships, and how one's mother (or daughter) can simultaneously be the closest friend and the worst enemy.

The movie, which is organized somewhat like a documentary, was shot in 10 days after a few months of workshops and rehearsal.

Much of the dialogue is quick and incisive, and it would be interesting to know how much of it, if any, was improvised.

Mothers & Daughters appeared first at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall.

(This film is rated 14-A)


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