Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mother of Tears (2007)

Dario Argento finally concludes his "Three Mothers" trilogy (starting with Suspiria in 1977 and continuing with Inferno in 1980) with Mother of Tears. Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento), an Italian playing an American studying art in Rome, comes across a recently dug up urn containing ancient artifacts which give power to the "the third mother", the most powerful of the three witches. The third mother, upon retrieving her powers, causes lots of bad shit to happen. I mean, really bad shit. Suicides, looting, murder, dismemberment, child abduction, child murder, etc. Dario Argento pushes far beyond the boundaries he established in the previous films in this trilogy. One mother brings her newborn to the center of a bridge, makes some goo goo eyes at the poor son of a bitch, and then drops him into the river below. Argento can't leave it at that though, insisting that the little guy bounce off part of the bridge as he falls to his death. I think mothers are portrayed very positively in this picture.

Typical of Argento, the plot (if you can call it that) is not easy to follow. The very night that Sarah comes across the urn, her friend, and fellow student, is murdered in fairly horrific fashion (which involves some kind of corkscrew to the mouth followed by one of the most relentless disembowlments i've seen - strangulation by your own guts is a fairly original way of dying I think) and the urn is stolen. Sarah is questioned by the police and goes home with her lover Michael (Adam James) whose son is later abducted sending Michael on a fruitless quest to retrieve him (thankfully we don't follow his quest too much. It doesn't end very well for Michael I'm afraid).

Shit, this is some sort of bizarre, halucinogenic, gore-laden masterpiece that's just so god damned hard to describe. As soon as the third mother is reborn, a coven of euro trash witches descend upon Rome and begin to wreak havoc, which thankfully includes lots of walking around topless. An insane, perhaps poorly chosen subplot, involves Sarah's spectral mother, a former witch herself (I think) advising her daughter on her journey of self-discovery or whatever. She seems to appear whenever danger is around until finally another spectral being gets annoyed and just drags the dead bitch off to hell (a great moment since Sarah's mother was nothing more than unneccessary comic relief). Although, through her dead mother, Sarah learns about her own latent powers that hopefully she can learn to use in the next hour or so. Argento is actually painful to watch in the scenes with ghost mom, calling her "mommy" and trying to deal with some serious abandonment issues. Let it be known that I think Asia Argento is a wonderful (and stunningly beautiful) actress and, for the most part, is terrific in this role. She's got at least two assets that I can think of off the top of my head. I loved her work in XXX.

This picture also makes use of an evil monkey. Apparently, monkeys are good for one thing. Calling out the good guy's hiding spots by jumping on their heads, pulling on their hair, and screaming. This little fucker eventually receives a perfectly justified demise that even PETA couldn't get up in arms about. Ok, let's get to the good stuff; copious amounts of breasts, lesbian breasts, witch's breasts, Asia's breasts, etc. Lots and lots of breasts. What is this, the 70s?Speaking of Asia's breasts, it's unfathomable to me (as a sheltered American) that a father could cast his daughter in this type of role. Unfathomable and, frankly, refreshing. Now on to the potentially offensive stuff; woman skewered by a spear through her privates and out her mouth...and that's not the worst of it. Of course, we don't see the entrance, just the exit....Dario Argento had the fortunate, or unfortunate depending on your psyche, lack of bad taste in this instance. Did I mention the picture had lesbians? In a topless embrace? Also a witch (witches are inherently lesbian-ish) licks the tears of her dying victims...hence the moniker.

The finale is kinda hard to explain, so I won't even bother. Well, ok, just a little. Sarah and her new detective friend track the mother of tears to an old castle where she and her disciples are having some kind of fucked-beyond-reason, orgiastic, topless (of course) ceremony. I swear there was an enema in there somewhere. What transpires after Sarah rips the ceremonial garb off the mother and flings it into the fire (yes, the mother is now completely naked and of course there's a fire, there's always a fire) is fantastically ridiculous. There really is no reason to like this movie if you're just an average joe-schmoe looking for a night out at the cinema. There's no reason to like this if you're the average douchebag "critic" (say, Ben Lyons). Things seemingly happen at random, the acting is so stylized to the point that the vast majority of people would consider it awful (and I don't mean "stylized" in that winking at the camera bullshit kind of way), the music is overbearingly weird at times...occasionally hitting a few Psycho chords....shit man, I'm rambling...and usually when I ramble it means I'm in love. Maybe I am. It's not as good as Suspiria, but it doesn't have to be. It's as good as it is.


brian said...

it's rare that you find a "Dimension Extreme" title worthy of the label "Extreme". I think "Mother of Tears" and "Inside" are the only ones.

elmo said...

Sounds like my movie, brah, toats.