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SIFF ADVANCE: Me, Myself and Mum - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
SIFF ADVANCE: Me, Myself and Mum
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: C+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

Me, Myself and Mum is like nothing else out there, I'll give it that. But perhaps some key element of it gets lost in translation. The original title, Les garçons et Guillaume, à table!, after all, literally translates as, Boys and Guillaume, at the Table! What?

Okay, in context, that title makes more sense than it does on its own. Guillaume grows up with a strangely aloof mother who enables him to be convinced he's a girl. His obsession with being just like his mother is underscored by the fact that both Guillaume and his mother are played by Guillame Gallienne -- who also directed and co-wrote the film.

And Gallienne gives a surprisingly solid performance as the mother, which never devolves into caricature. It's so well done that it's easy to forget that it's a man dressed in drag for the role; it's sort of like the mother role in Hairspray played straight. There's plenty of humor in this movie but there's no camp.

There's also no particular consistency. The script, which basically renders everything else irrelevant if it's bad, is poorly constructed at worst and confusing at best. I suppose I could try giving Gallienne the benefit of the doubt and suggest again that perhaps something more got lost in translation -- did this movie perhaps make more sense to American audiences?

To American audiences, the story feels contradictory. Gallienne can't seem to decide whether we are to empathize with Guillaume as transgendered or if we are to blame his mother for causing him a years-long detour from ultimately discovering his true heterosexuality. And if the latter is the case, which is very strongly implied, then why all the time spent as a young person infatuated with other young men, all the while making every effort to be as womanly as possible?

Granted, Guillaume is shown going through phases, of sorts. (Suggesting any of these things are "just a phase" is also problematic, of course, although I suppose it may still represent someone's authentic experience, however rare it may be.) His younger days are spent wrapping blankets around his waist to fantasize he's in a dress; this makes for some fairly amusing sequences. And then, when his mother finally suggests he is gay, he actually "tries it out," with unsatisfactory results.

Given that this character is given the same name as the writer-director, one wonders to what degree this movie is autobiographical. It hardly matters; once the movie is unleashed on the world, all that matters is how it's received as a movie.

Guillaume Gallienne has a sort of awkward chemistry onscreen, and he's fun to watch -- both as the son and as the mother. A few of the scenes, such as the sequence in which Guillame is met with several unexpected surprises at a spa, are rather funny. Until the very end, Me, Myself and Mum is adequately entertaining. But then it ends and you kind of think, What the hell? There doesn't seem to be any logical flow-through to the depiction of Guillame's fate.

It's an intriguing story, but with one rather important flaw: it seems to have something to say, but I can't figure out what it is. Gallienne seems to regard his characters without judgment, but he doesn't give them enough dimension either -- even though he seems to be making a valiant effort at it with the boy he plays. But it's a little like he reached far for depth, but still only managed to grab a handful of air. In short: I don't really get it.

Guillaume Gallienne plays both Guillaume and his mother in ME, MYSELF AND MUM.

Overall: B-
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