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Mother aka Social Nightmare is one of those strange movies which with some tinkering could have been better than what you get.
Review (with Spoilers)
The main reason I saw this film was because there are a lot of familiar faces in it. Daryl Hannah, who I know solely from Kill Bill and that mermaid movie; Kirsten Prout, whose career I’m only familiar with when it comes to her ABC Family shows; Chloe Bridges, who I know from The Carrie Diaries; then there is Brandon Smith, who is one of the many Disney boys who never made it big; and lastly, Rachel True who I remember from The Craft and when she had a show on UPN called Half & Half more than a decade ago.
Together they work in a film which has its flaws, yet remains entertaining throughout, for more specifics, read below.
Characters & Story
The lead for this film is Kirsten Prout’s character Catherine who fits 90% of Prout’s roles. She is sweet, innocent and has that girl next door charm. The only difference between this character and most of Prout’s is that she is popular. Beside her, in a strong supporting role, is Bridge’s Emily who is Catherine’s academic rival and best friend. When you first meet her, though, she does give you the idea that you are about to watch a Thirteen rip-off, but as time goes on you realize that one wine cooler doesn’t mean she is going to be the one to blow Catherine’s mind. Outside of those two are Daniel (played by Brandon Smith) who is Catherine’s boyfriend, with a special needs sister; Mrs. Langran (played by Rachel True) who is the school’s guidance counselor and advisor to the Yearbook Club; and lastly there is Susan Hardy (played by Daryl Hannah) the mom experiencing the first onset signs of Empty Nest Syndrome.
Altogether they create a story featuring the reasons why you should change your passwords and create backup fail safes for your social account and phone. Also, as a subplot, the movie also deals with bullying of special needs people, friendship and how school systems really fail at protecting kids. So, needless to say, a lot is going on.
To begin the praise, I must say I was quite entertained by the film, but this is because I came into it without setting my standard high. It was a movie I never heard of and seeing Daryl Hannah’s name on anything is like seeing Eugene Levy, you know that it is going to be something corny or overdramatic. But, Prout and Bridges somehow save the film by making it seem like a pilot. Two girls with dreams of opening a business, going to Brown together, dorming together, and both doing a double-major. Off the bat, the film has these girls more developed than any film similar.
Then, to add onto things, I liked how Daniel was portrayed as not just a boyfriend but protective big brother as well. However, once the drama came, I feared for the worst, and yet things still kept steady and remained interesting. Admittedly, from the poster alone, and the title I saw for the film, the ending is spoiled, but there were still a handful of moments when I did question if perhaps we were setup to believe something and would end up tricked.
Unfortunately, though, this did not happen and that is the sole issue I have with the film. If they simply made it so that Susan wasn’t so obviously doing everything, this film could have been so much better. Hannah as the mom she plays is fine, she is protective, has good reasoning and though I’m not sure how they afford the big house they live in, I can write that bit off. However, once the drama roles in and Catherine’s life goes to hell, there isn’t much room for doubt. Yes, they present the idea that people besides Susan could have done it, but they give no real evidence to significantly sway you. In fact, only one incident in the movie makes you think Susan maybe didn’t do everything, and they take away that doubt quickly.
Overall: TV Viewing
There is a reason this was a made-for-tv movie. For one, no one in the film, except Daryl Hannah back in the day, are at that point where their name means something when slapped on a film. This isn’t to say they aren’t talented, but Prout is basically type casted, and Bridges seemingly is on her way to doing the same with her career. Yet, at the same time, the film deserves to be checked out, especially since it is easily available for free, since the only bad element of it is the fact the mystery of who is ruining Catherine’s life is weak. Outside of that, there is little wrong with this film. I’d even argue that if you remodeled it, even with Hannah’s crazy character, you could potentially make a show out of this. Whether it would be a hit, though, I couldn’t say.