‘Materna’ Review: Mother’s Problems – The New York Times


In David Gutnik’s feature film debut, “Materna,” four grieving New York women are linked by an incident on the subway – surprise, surprise – involving a crazy man (Sturgill Simpson). More subtle and more focused than interlocking grandiose dramas like “Crash,” this film deals, as the name suggests, with motherhood and motherhood: the anxieties of pregnancy and child-rearing; guilt and disappointments arising from generational conflicts.

The four episodes of the film chronicle the events that led to each woman arriving in the same train carriage, and the explosion that took place there is repeatedly visualized from each problematic head area.

Jean (Kate Lyn Sheil) is a VR artist whose mother constantly badgers her to freeze her eggs; Mona (Jade Eshete) is an actress struggling to connect with her Witness mother; Ruth (Lindsay Bridge) is a wealthy stay-at-home mom convinced that her teenage son is being persecuted by the politically correct agenda of his school; Perizad (Assol Abdullina, who also co-wrote with Gutnik and Eshete), moves to her hometown of Kyrgyzstan after the death of a relative and spends time with her mother and grandmother.

Perizad’s story, supported by Abdullina’s weary, yet probing gaze, acquires an emotional tenor lacking in previous short stories, albeit undermined by dialogue and text messages, fully reporting the issues involved.

However, each episode leaves a mark: Jean’s story turns to sci-fi horror when artificial insemination takes on a frightening real meaning; naturalistic camerawork adds a frenetic intimacy to Mona’s heated sessions with her acting coach; and the tension between Ruth and her ideologically opposed brother (Rory Culkin) turns into a dramatic, dramatic showdown if drawn predictably.

I wish there were more ties. Currently, the glue that unites these women of different ethnicities and backgrounds appears to be an unsuccessful attempt to make a more ambitious meaning out of individual stories that are already full of possibilities.

Not rated. Working time: 1 hour 45 minutes. In theaters and can be rented or purchased apple tv, Google Play and other streaming services.


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