A straight male director might not be the best choice for the person to helm a film about the nature of relationships between mothers and daughters, and yet, that’s exactly what Paul Duddridge was enlisted to do for Paige Cameron’s screenplay, straightforwardly called Mothers and Daughters.
With a cast that reads like who’s who of plastic surgery all-stars, the plot centers around childless and passionate photographer Rigby (Selma Blair), who is connected to fashion model Sebastien (Christopher Backus), a sought after type in a steady relationship with an up and coming bra designer named Georgina Scott (Mira Sorvino). This is the launching point of intertwinement, as Georgina’s televised satellite interview about her bra collection leads to Nina (Sharon Stone), a bigwig at a fashion magazine, offering her a feature in the publication. In the background of this video chat is Nina’s daughter, Layla (Alexandra Daniels), who Georgina says hello to, asking, “Have we met before?”–which, of course, factors into a later plot twist.
Elsewhere in the orbit of mother-daughter relationships based in New York City is Rebecca (Christina Ricci), a successful lawyer who has recently had to come to terms with the discovery that the woman she thought was her mother is actually her grandmother–freshly dead–and the woman she thought was her sister, Beth (Courteney Cox), is actually her mother. Oh, the Lifetime-level drama.
Although Paige Cameron wrote the screenplay centered around Duddridge’s notion of mother-daughter rapports, the infusion of female perspective doesn’t do much to prop up dialogue that even Susan Sarandon and her own real life daughter, Eva Amurri (rejoining her mother onscreen fourteen years after The Banger Sisters), can help to authenticate.
The most interesting aspect of the film, luckily, remains tethered to its main character, with Rigby offered an amazing career opportunity from a rock star named Nelson Quinn (Luke Mitchell), only to be faced with the unexpected need to decide whether or not she wants to go through with having a child now that her boyfriend has dumped her (in a scene so wooden and unbelievable that it seems more like a blooper).
Her OB/GYN, Dr. Conrad (Dave Baez), takes an obvious shine to her after she goes on a rant about how it’s not fair that women have to think carefully about getting rid of a child, when all men have to do is throw their seed at the first available vagina when the opportunity presents itself. Naturally, a romance slowly blossoms between the two of them after she clichely opts to go through with the pregnancy so that she can live her own life and stop taking pictures of those of others.
While the film’s sentiment is theoretically well-meaning, it’s, at best, an “artsier” version of Mother’s Day. If you want to see a real movie about mothers and daughters, you’re better off enjoying Mildred Pierce. If only Pedro Almodóvar and Xavier Dolan could expand away from the son-mother relationship to more accurately explore the daughter-mother one–then we wouldn’t have to absorb this kind of slop.