Thursday, September 11, 2008

Momma's Man

Peter Pan syndrome is in full effect in director Azazel Jacobs' Momma's Man, a heartbreakingly real dissection of one man's inability to come to grips with the frightening prospect of marriage, children, and adult responsibility. Poetically arduous and at times difficult to not avert your eyes from, Momma's Man delves into the maturation of uncertainty with a deft, somber eye.

Mikey (played with cherubic sensitivity by Matt Boren) is a lumbering schlub of ineptitude, back home in New York on a business trip, he decides to extend his stay with his parents one more day. One more day away from the wife, away from the newborn baby, away from the responsibilities and doldrums of a childhood dream deferred.

Yet as day becomes days, Mikey's reasoning and dreams aren't examined or dissected, and as he extends his stay and slides down a spiral of childhood nostalgia, it's apparent that a definitive reason isn't necessary. He stays because he can't go, he lies because he can't live the truth, he stagnates because he misses the boundless optimism of long lost youth.

Jacob's real life place of upbringing serves as a perfect backdrop to Mikey's descent; a cluttered, copious cavern of art and artifacts that's full of life yet also constricting. Adding a wonderful flourish to the chaotic living space are it's real life inhabitants, Jacobs' actual parents Flo and Ken, who play Mikey's stoically balanced parental unit. Non-actors themselves, they effectively function through silences and knowing glances, well defined faces aged by experience but lush with an underlying love.

It's this love that allows Mikey to stay and pursue the rekindling of childhood doors closed long ago, and it's the same love that brings him to his inevitable conclusion.

Momma's Man is far from an easy viewing experience (at my screening, almost half walked out) and while its protagonist is well short of being easily empathetic, the film's spirit and glaring truthfulness work at the core of its redemption.

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