“MOTHERHOOD” writer-director, Katherine Dieckmann
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 9:30 pm — Eccles Theatre, Park City]
I started out writing Motherhood from a place of frustration with contemporary movies because I couldn’t think of a single one that dealt nearly exclusively in a complicated, human, reasonably authentic way with the subject of what it’s like to be a mother. Moms in the movies tend to be neglectful, embarrassing, screwballs, alcoholics, bitches, or monsters of controlling will, which may be true of some mothers some of the time, but certainly not all mothers all of the time.
As a serious fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I was inspired to depict a contemporary mom in New York City, albeit one without a lot of money, who undergoes the kind of public trials and tribulations that Larry David’s cranky protagonist goes through — but laces it all with the funny-sad swings of motherhood. This is a comedic but also melancholy look at a mother’s struggle for self-identification during a Mrs. Dalloway-like day-in-the-life (and yes, a life not unlike my life).
Since finishing the film, I have come to realize exactly why there aren’t many movies on the maternal state of being: There can be a knee-jerk hostility to the topic alone, especially from those not yet prepared, or disinclined, to breed. It’s easy to reduce the movie to a chick flick, which it’s not. Plus some viewers are made uncomfortable by the mere existence of a prickly mom who tries hard and means well but is sometimes a total jerk.
But for those who get it — women and men alike, both parents and not — there’s the sense that something previously unexplored is being placed before them on the screen. Motherhood forms a genre of one, and that very fact speaks volumes about today’s cinema and its preoccupations.