There’s a point when as mother you stop knowing best, well okay maybe that point never comes really, but when your children grow up, move away get their own lives, you have to recognise that they might know more about life, or certain aspects of life than you do – shock horror! Anyway in conversation with my son (now 22 and whose film Signalbox #100 will showcase at the London Film Festival this week) about my novel, The Angelmaker, that, bless him, he took the trouble to read, he made some really informed comments.
Not to give away the plot, it’s a detective story, set nowish, which tracks back to experiences in Africa regarding the Mau Mau and a modern murder. I think of it as a thriller but he read it as a story about motherhood.
Admittedly the main character is a mother of small children and yes some of the novel is preoccupied with her struggle to raise children on her own, but there is murder and mayhem … come on!
What he went on to say was that motherhood doesn’t sell and he cited, quite rightly, the film by that name starring Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver. Those two actresses are a good pedigree and the film cost $5,000,000 to make and took £88 on its first weekend in the UK, overall it has made nearly $100,000. I must be one of the ten or so people who have seen it and I saw it on the telly. It wasn’t that bad…… but people simply hated it! Even that didn’t do as badly as Mother’s Day starring Rebecca de Mornay, purporting to be a thriller, it cost $11,000,000 and made 25,000 ish Euros in the Nederlands – that’s it! Was it really that bad?
That raises the question why is the subject of motherhood so economically taboo in film? Parenthood is something that is common to us all and the movie, is an all time favourite, but aside from the genius of Steve Martin, it is very much a pastiche on fatherhood – so that’s all right then, we can talk about parenting in relation to how it affects men,
but not how it affects women. Only last night my husband said he wanted to see Taken 2 because it was about a good father (with lots of kickass) but that is what I was trying to do with The Angelmaker!! Okay there wasn’t quite so much kickass! Actually I want to see Taken 2 as well, but largely because it’s Liam Neeson, the character’s parenting skills aren’t my main interest. Even so since when was Uma Thurman a disaster at the box office? Obviously since she decided to represent a woman’s life rather than a male fantasy about women.
However if the film Motherhood were only eschewed by men it could still have an audience, you only have to look at the success of Sex and the City and the way in which the cinema (at least for the first film) was full of women dressed to the nines enjoying the movie.
It is a bit of a mystery that motherhood can only be addressed sideways, through comedy, through the eyes of the father, through an unusual story: gay parents (The Kids Are All Right). Clearly film is not a mirror, we are not that keen on a real reflection, film is a fantasy and for that reason I maintain the best stories of motherhood and parenthood is the RugRats, parenthood through the eyes of a child!
If you want to read about Personality, Performance and Precision in the classroom – flip over to www.myflippingclassroom.com for more…