'Mad Women': Film Review

Mad Women Movie
A ponderous would-be provocation

Incest, statutory rape, drugs and other tidbits from an aspiring politician's home life.

A mess of a family drama wrapped up in some never-credible politics and more misshapen monologues than you could find in a freshman play-writing course, Jeff Lipsky's Mad Women contains almost no shots of people doing anything other than talking. When action does flitter onto the screen, it's a man and a woman viciously gut-punching each other as a form of courtship. Presumably aiming for some kind of edgy provocation but too long-winded and dim-witted to find an appropriate tone, it will struggle to find admirers in its NYC theatrical booking and will likely vanish immediately thereafter.

Kelsey Lynn Stokes plays Nevada, whose mom (Christina Starbuck) hopes to become mayor of their small, rich town. Fortunately, the election is held before Dad (Reed Birney) is convicted of statutory rape after dropping acid and having sex with a 16 year-old at a John Fogerty/Jackson Browne concert. Veteran character actor Birney maintains a straight face while telling how this happened; Lipsky has him repeat the chore late in the film, with another implausibly explicit dinner-table anecdote about his sexual adventures in prison.

While he's in the big house, Nevada uses that gut-punch technique to woo the creep who's been leering at her every day on the tennis court (Eli Percy). Later, she's lying on her mother's bed listening to a story when she slowly begins to fondle herself, initiating one of the least believable incestuous relationships in movie history.

Lest this synopsis make the film sound titillating or scandalous, it must be said that it is dull above all, full of long, pointless conversations and puzzling digressions. Skyping with her sister, Nevada says, "Dad once told me that everyone's life has one good movie in it. Not mine." Judging from Mad Women, she couldn't be more right.

Production company: Plainview Pictures

Cast: Reed Birney, Eli Percy, Kelsey Lynn Stokes, Christina Starbuck, Jamie Harrold, Sharon Van Ivan

Director-Screenwriter: Jeff Lipsky

Producer: Nikolai Metin

Executive producer: Nick Athas

Director of photography: Valentina Caniglia

Production designer: Knox White

Costume designer: Bree Perry

Editor: Patricia Burgess

Music: XBOP

Casting director: Amy Gossels

No rating, 130 minutes

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