‘Dear Mother’ Review: The Bizarre Tale Of A Man Without A Beating Heart


“Dear Mother” is a French comedy film directed by Laurent Lafitte. The film is an absurd comedy that revolves around a son whose heart stops beating one day, and it is only with objectionable help from the mother that he can get back his heartbeat. With a funny storyline and a few humorous instances, the film stays true to its genre. The film also points towards the mother-child relationship; it talks about the uncountable sacrifices that a mother makes for the love of her offspring. Dear Mother starts with the idea of birth and with it, motherhood, where the son asks for a monetary reward for his contribution to the family, whereas the mother’s hard work is granted to be free.

Synopsis: What Is This Film About?

At the center of this comedy-drama, we have Jean-Louis, a lawyer who is suffering from a mid-life crisis. His relationship with his wife of seventeen years, Valérie, has reached stagnancy, and the life that he had built seems to be an elaborate lie for him. Always comforting Jean-Louis is his close friend, Michel, a veterinarian.

Jean-Louis’s life takes a complete detour when, suddenly, his heart stops beating. No amount of exercise could make him feel his heart beating. A panicked Jean-Louis asks his friend, Michel, to analyze him. Michel is a comical character who applies his knowledge as a vet to diagnose his friend. The lack of a heartbeat startled him as well, forcing him to question the possibility of such a bizarre occurrence.

While the two friends were busy understanding the absurdity of the situation, Valérie entered the house and could figure out the oddity. Gradually, the truth is revealed to her, and she decides to take him to her trusted holistic coach, Margaux. This is when Jean-Louis is forced to face taboos surrounding his mother, and the only way to get his heartbeat was to take a picture of his mother’s vagina—the place from where Jean-Louis arrived into this world.

According to Margaux, it is only upon facing his origin would he be back again with a beating heart. This is where the journey begins, of Jean-Louis, trying to mend his relationship with his mother for his survival. The mother was glad to have her son back, though Jean-Louis’ intentions were not clear to her. We realize that the mother never approved of his relationship with Valérie, and it was, in a way, a primary reason for the gap in their relationship. The film creates endless awkward instances where various methods are employed to take the picture that he needed, though most of the techniques fail miserably. The heartbeat is restored, but at what cost?

The Absurdity Of ‘Dear Mother’

The storyline should itself be enough to indicate the absurd track the film chooses to take. The dream sequences of Jean-Louise where he is seen to be taking a bath reoccurs, where he has to confront his Oedipal truth. Sexual instances with his mother cloud his thoughts, haunting him at night, making his heartless journey all the more complicated. Artistically, those scenes were well thought out and smoothly executed, so the audience was hinted at the bizarre but was saved from the potential cringe.

“Dear Mother” is also a tale of a self-centered man who can go to any extent for his survival and selfish interests. Jean-Louis’s personal history did have a role to play in turning him into the person he had become, something that was kept hidden from him till the very end.

While “Dear Mother” is an entertaining, absurd comedy, it does take risks, at times going to extreme ends for the laughs, something that might not be to the taste of many. The character that stands out from the extremely talented cast is the Michel character. The presence of the character, punched with several humorous dialogues, makes the film entertaining.

Laurent Lafitte (the director, writer, and actor) as the protagonist Jean-Louise is convincing to watch. Hélène Vincent, as the mother who is shocked and baffled by her son’s strange behavior, is brilliant in this film. Every character in this film has a certain strangeness, be it the mother, son, or Michel, of course.

The story of a man who is surviving without his heart beating attracts a certain crowd, those who can enjoy and appreciate the humor found in the absurdity of life, death, and what lies in between the two. The overall risky comedy can be overwhelming for some, though the film did manage to keep it within a certain limit. “Dear Mother” can be your watch if you want to indulge in some French absurdity. Though it is not marvelous, the film will keep you entertained.

Dear Mother is a 2022 French comedy film directed by Laurent Lafitte. It is streaming on Netflix.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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