'Mom and Me': Telluride Review

Telluride Film Festival
'Mom and Me'
The never-ending story, between mothers and sons.

Director Ken Wardrop shines a light on the maternal bond between mothers and their sons.

The vicinity of Oklahoma City, which was recently designated as “the manliest city in the United States” by some group or other, is the setting for Mom and Me, a beguiling little documentary about men and their relationships with dear old mom. Irish filmmaker Ken Wardrop has elicited warm, frank commentaries from a wide variety of men (most of whom seem more overweight than manly), often at their homes and sometimes in the presence of their mothers. Other than festivals, TV seems like the natural home for this simple, nicely judged mirror on life and feelings.

Providing something of a foundation is a local talk radio program called The Joe Show on which the 70-ish host, Joe Cristano, volubly expounds on the subject of mothers and takes calls from some of the subjects who appear before Wardrops camera.

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All sorts of guys turn up to tell their mother stories, quite a few of whom are clearly not doing all that well in life: There’s a genial 380-pound black man whose mother was not too on top of things, a very white bread fellow whose mom still berates him for having quit what became the state championship high school soccer team, a gun-obsessed Iraq War vet, an old cowboy, a weightlifter with abandonment issues and a meth addiction, a prairie preacher, a chubby unmarried fellow whose mother badgers him for grandchildren, and a well-to-do lawyer whose orange-haired cat lady mom has already hired a choreographer for her funeral; Wardrop veers very close to Errol Morris, if not John Waters, territory here.

Best of all is a 63-year-old Indian “medicine man” mama’s boy whose ancient mother’s chiseled brown features look like they were carved for a totem pole. The enchanting old bird smokes, watches football, launches into a victory chant when she beats her son at chess and insists that he take her to a casino, where she hits the slots with relish.

There is no real wisdom imparted in these stories, only evidence of the weird variety of humankind and the imperishability of that most essential and elemental of human relationships, between a mother and child. Or, as Wardrop quotes Oscar Wilde at the outset: “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”

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Venue: Telluride Film Festival

Production: Venom Films, Bulb Films

Director: Ken Wardrop

Producer: Andrew Freedman

Executive producers: Keith Porter, Adam Partridge

Director of photography: Kate McCullough

77 minutes