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‘Mom & Me’ (review)

Produced by Andrew Freedman
Written and Directed by Ken Wardrop
Featuring Joe Cristiano
Mom & Me is a documentary written and directed by Ken Wardrop. It documents the relationships of a number of mothers and sons in Oklahoma.  I am reasonably certain it is a love letter, or maybe more accurately, a thank you note to his own mom. I am not sure documentary film making is the place to work out your Oedipal angst.
I had to watch this or more to the point, tried to watch this three times before I could force my way through it.
The film opens on a radio studio and the announcer is lamenting about his mother and his ideas about relationships between mothers and sons.
You don’t learn his name or why he sounds like he is from Brooklyn when the entire film takes place in Oklahoma. He’s an older gentleman and his attitude seems to reflect an “easier time” when men were men and they loved their moms.
We bounce around a number of mother son pairs, hearing part of their tales of love and pain.  You don’t learn any of their names. There is no introduction, no name superimposed on the screen, nothing to give the viewer a clue who they are watching or listening to. We bounce from Brooklyn announcer guy to Oklahoma mother son pair, back to Brooklyn, back to a different mother son pair.  Confusing and disjointed are the words that come to mind.
One of them felt loved. One of them didn’t. One of them was in prison and basks in his mother’s forgiveness. One shoots guns with his mom and another plays chess. The editing is confusing and there is no overarching narrative.  What was Wardrop trying to accomplish?  I still haven’t figured it out.
The production value was so low budget it was distracting. The whole documentary is bleak looking, even during the sunny shots.  Maybe that has to do with it being shot in colder weather in Oklahoma, but even the tender moments are depressing because of the look and feel.  Wardrop uses this weird shot where the son is clearly answering an interview question but they do it while talking into a telephone so it looks like they are having a conversation about their mother with some unseen third party.  It looks terrible and Wardrop uses it over and over again.  He even has the poor guy in prison pretend to talk into a pay phone while being filmed. It’s pointless.
Mom & Me is amateurish from beginning to end. While there are a couple of tender moments and some grown up man tears there is not a lot to like.  I watched this, so you don’t have to.
1 out of 5 stars

Mom & Me is currently in limited release and is available On Demand

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