The Good Mother (1988)

good-mother

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: She losses her daughter.

Anna (Diane Keaton) is a frigid woman who divorces her husband Brian (James Naughton) of many years and gets joint custody of their 6-year-old daughter Molly (Asia Vieira). After spending some time being single she meets up with an artist named Leo (Liam Neeson) who opens her up to a whole new sexual awakening. Her new liberated lifestyle affects her daughter as well. When Molly catches Leo getting out of the shower naked she inquires if she can touch his penis, which he allows and then later she crawls into bed with the couple as they make love. When Brian hears about this he demands full custody, which pits Anna against Leo as she fights the system to keep her daughter.

Keaton’s performance is the best thing as she plays the mother role for the third time in a decade and the exact reverse predicament of the character that she portrayed just before doing this one where she got stuck with a child that she didn’t want while here she loses one. I enjoyed Neeson’s Irish accent and Vieira is cute while it’s great seeing old-timers Ralph Bellamy and Teresa Wright in supporting roles.

Leonard Nimoy’s direction is solid for the most part. He was just coming off tremendous success with his earlier hit 3 Men and a Baby, so it was nice to see him take a creative challenge by tackling a different genre.  The story’s sensitive subject matter  is handled well including most importantly the scene showing the girl in bed with the two adults although the various other moments showing Anna’s and Leo’s intimacy is a little uncomfortable, but still captured tastefully without ever feeling that it is being overtly erotic.

The film’s biggest failing is the story itself. Although based on the best-selling novel by Sue Miller it doesn’t have enough twists to be compelling or enough of a visual quality to be cinematic. Too much time is spent at the beginning dealing with Anna’s childhood experiences with her cousin Babe (Tracy Griffith) that only has a thin connection to the rest of the plot and could’ve easily been cut and simply alluded to instead. The courtroom scenes lack impact and offer no new interesting revelations. The film also doesn’t bother to show two of the story’s most dramatic moments, which is when Molly tells her father about her experiences with Leo, or when Anna confronts Leo about it later, which to me should’ve been a must.

The ending leaves little impact making me wonder what point the filmmakers where trying to convey, or why a viewer should sit through it especially since it’s not based on a true story and meanders too long just for it to come to a very vague resolution.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: November 4, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated R

Director: Leonard Nimoy

Studio: Touchstone Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

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