Review By Tom Swift
What’s Wrong With Vermont? Mad Women!
Mad Women assaults the state of Vermont – while wrapped around a supposedly ground breaking mother/daughter sexual seduction.
The film proudly points out that this type of incest has never been dramatized before. Implausible at best, a better film might have occasioned research to determine that viewpoint’s validity. The Greek monster Medea is precedent enough for me.
It’s tough being tough on this kind of film. The producers no doubt spent considerable time on the script and fundraising. And no one sets out to make a bad film, but the filmmakers seem to have forgotten that films should be relatable and believable.
Now overtly political films are of course virtually unheard of. There are no Republicans or Democrats here: just an odd and self-absorbed bunch of Vermont progressives. Thankfully, no one in the film mentions the fact that Gov. Howard Dean and Senator Bernie Sanders are from Vermont, much less Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H* or Dick Loudon of Newhart. That would have been hitting the nail too much on the head –though a cheap shot about “Daryl, Daryl and Daryl” is irresistible.
Thankfully, Vermont is the second smallest state in population and covered 75% by forest. Luckily, as far as I can remember and unwilling to watch this again to make sure, no one mentions that Vermonters are unable to see the forest through the trees — though that clearly seems to be the point of the film.
Told from the point of view (more or less) of a middle, twenty-something daughter named Nevada and her hapless boyfriend Otto, Bad Women’s plot is driven by the exploits of her mother, Judith: a domestic terrorist elected mayor of a 17,000 person town who then decides to lead a succession from the Union –in order to institute a single payer system and other progressive indignities.
The film seems to imply that the mayor wouldn’t have done this if she wasn’t the type who’d sleep with her daughter. Or maybe it was the fact that her husband, a dentist, would be jailed on a charge of statutory rape for having sex in an arena bathroom with a sixteen year old girl — after taking a hit of LSD with the mayor. Or maybe it was the fact that the mayor needed a double mastectomy. Or maybe the mayor’s mother wasn’t loving enough. The title’s misogyny might just be motivation enough.
Nothing here deserves praise, and it would be cruel to point out individual foul balls. The film’s only crowd scene involves the mayor’s succession announcement. The audience looks packed with the film’s considerable list of donors thanked in the end credits.
They seem to be an attractive and kindhearted group – though they are now tarred by having pretended to live in Vermont and by having applauded this nonsense. Worse yet, however, will be their dashed expression when they realize there will be no return on their investments. My time’s lost: I’ll just blame my mom for foolhardiness.
MAD WOMEN will open at the Village East Cinemas in NYC on July 10th, at the Sundance Cinemas in LA on July 24th, followed by a national release in August.