Friday, October 23, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW - In Motherhood, a 6 year-old Says It Best

by Janis Brett Elspas
Mom of triplets, plus one more, all born within a year
Mommy Blog Expert

Motherhood, opening today in L.A., is the latest feature by Killer Film's Writer-Director Katherine Dieckmann (of Diggers and A Good Baby fame) and her partner, Producer Christine Vachon (Poison and the critically-acclaimed, Academy Award winner Boys Don't Cry).

Starring powerhouse A-list actresses Uma Thurman (as Eliza) and Minnie Driver (as Sheila, Eliza's best friend) with ER's Anthony Edwards playing Eliza's DH (dear husband) along with a wonderful supporting cast, this indie film has good cause to have been chosen as an official selection at prestigious film festivals such as Sundance, Woodstock, and Mill Valley.

I'm sure you're wondering what qualifies me, a rookie movie reviewer, to analyze Motherhood just because I attended the Los Angeles screening Wednesday night.  Actually, the story's premise is something I can relate to and speak about with some authority as I am both a real-life mommy blogger and a much-involved mother of four children.

But, before I get ahead of myself,  let me return to the subject at hand.  The drama-comedy that emerges so naturally in Motherhood revolves around the events in a single day in the life of Eliza, a WAHM (work-at-home-mom), who is desperately trying to return her pre-baby professional writing persona to her soul.

While on the road to establishing herself as a respected mommy blogger, she wears many other hats: A+ personality mom, pack mule, wife, elder caregiver, dog walker, and party planner, to name just a few.  Thanks to tremendous comedic and improvisational performances by a wonderful leading lady duo, Eliza and her sidekick Sheila, the latter who is pregnant and single as the story unfolds, both come off as interesting, funny, and poignant characters caught in the complex web of everything it means to be a mother: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Albeit, two women who find themselves in contrasting (but equally challenging) states of motherhood.

Yet, as all adult actors know and sometimes fear, a child can sometimes steal the show, shifting the spotlights with their smaller presence buoyed by a powerful message.  In Motherhood, it is Eliza's daughter Clara, played by the very talented child actress Daisy Tahan (wearing a birthday crown in the picture above with the cast in a scene from the movie), who accomplishes that feat.

By chance, I was sitting next to Daisy and her mom Elly at the screening -- who like me, I learned, are both Jersey girls.  Conversation came easily to mom and her bright-eyed, animated, yet very typical, little-girl-next-door daughter.  So, just before the lights went out and the film began rolling, I had a feeling that the Clara character would have a more important role in this movie than anyone in the audience might have anticipated.

Just thinking about her accomplishments to date, make me exhausted because seven year-old Daisy is an amazing young lady beyond her years with a portfolio that many adult actors would envy.  She has only been working several years, but already has eight features in the can and is currently in L.A. shooting Little Fochers, the sequel to the comedy The Fochers, at Universal Studios.  Not only that, but she has appeared in eleven episodes of the television show Nurse Jackie and has a credit for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

But, first and foremost remember this bright young star is real and down-to-earth, a cute young girl who in reality has a pet hamster that she had to leave in the car to watch herself on screen tonight.  Indeed, few would dispute that this little lady is someone just about anybody her age could relate to.  And, what she brings to her Clara character is so important to the plot from the perspective of Eliza, her mother.

As is the case with most films starring major adult talent, the young people often seem to have the lesser number of lines and scenes in which they have the chance to demonstrate their craft; Motherhood seems to follow that norm.  Toward the end of the story, in one of the picture's warmest mother-daughter moments, Daisy's character steps outside the family's double walk-up Manhattan apartment in the middle of the 6 year-old birthday her mommy has nearly bent over backwards to throw for her.  There, she finds her mother seeking to find herself again through her writing and typing an essay for a "Motherhood Is" contest.  Her lines are innocent, naturally and professionally delivered. Yet, the words drive home the core thought of what Eliza has struggled throughout the film to articulate.  "Mommies do everything, " says Clara, as Eliza holds her close in her arms.  "Daddies only do some things."

As always, I enjoy getting comments from my readers, so definitely leave yours with this movie review.  Additionally, I encourage you to see the movie yourself, then to come back here as I'd love to hear your own reactions.

Motherhood is rated PG-13 and the movie's banner warns "Parents Strongly Cautioned."  In observance of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, from now through November 6, 2009 in select metro areas and cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston), for every ticket purchased on Fandango $1 will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

About Janis Brett Elspas, writer of this exclusive Movie Review for MommyBlogExpert
Brett Elspas delivers family-friendly content, movie & book reviews, product reviews, and giveaways for MommyBlogExpert that enhances living for every member of the family: parents, kids, and/or extended family.  She is always on the look out for good subject matter for this blog.  Whenever possible, she attends screenings and premieres of films and television and cable shows so she may produce critical reviews that are suited to the readership niches that she serves.  She is a mom of triplets plus one more who were all born within a year and lives with her hubbie and kids in Southern California.  Brett Elspas has also been involved heavily in community service for several decades, continuing to be regularly involved in Big Sunday Los Angeles and Strides Therapeutic Riding Center (both with her family) as well as with Triplet Connection Convention where she has volunteered as national media relations director since 2002.


  1. Now that I have read your article, I have a clear understanding of the movie.Your absolutely right... Daisy is such an adorable girl. I can't wait to see what other articles you will write!!

  2. My favorite thing about the movie was Daisy! How cool that you had that experience with her!!

  3. Yes, I think Daisy's star is on the rise. She's working so much and hopefully we'll see her in increasingly promising roles over the next few years.

  4. I can't wait to see the movie. Loved reading your take on it - and the real little girl with her hampster in the car.

  5. Has anyone seen Motherhood? What did you think of it? Leave your comments here.