YOU ARE NOT MY MOThER Movie Poster | ©2022 Magnet

YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER Movie Poster | ©2022 Magnet

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Hazel Doupe, Carolyn Bracken, Ingrid Craigie, Jordanne Jones, Paul Reid, Katie White, Florence Adebambo
Writer: Kate Dolan
Director: Kate Dolan
Distributor: Magnet
Release Date: March 25, 2022

YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER has a title that indicates where its plot is going. Director/writer Kate Dolan makes a good case for how mental illness can easily be confused with supernatural darkness, while not letting her genre audience down.

In a prologue, we see a baby alone in a stroller at night. A woman, Rita (Ingrid Craigie), runs up to the stroller and begins pushing it. She sets the baby down in a secluded spot on the ground, then appears to start a fire with her bare hands.

Cut to modern-day Dublin, Ireland. We’re in a working-class neighborhood that borders on woodland. Rita Delaney lives in a two-story house with her daughter, Angela (Carolyn Bracken), and teenaged granddaughter Char (Hazel Doupe).

We see that Char has what appear to be burn marks on one side of her face. We’ll eventually learn exactly what happened in the prologue, but for now, it’s a mystery to us as well as to Char herself.

Meanwhile, Angela is suffering from crippling depression. She almost has an accident driving Char to school. Later that day, Char finds her mother’s car abandoned in the middle of a field.

The police are promptly called. They are sympathetic, but unable to provide much help, much to the resignation of Rita and the ire of her son, Angela’s brother Aaron (Paul Reid). Char’s schoolmates use this further evidence of Delaney family madness; there’s plenty of local gossip to this effect already.

Then Angela returns home on her own, seeming a little stunned but otherwise unharmed. At first, she seems changed for the better: preparing meals, dancing with Char, wanting to go outside. But then …

Filmmaker Dolan does an admirable job of weaving imagery of the past plausibly into the present, with bonfires, corn weavings, and untouched natural spots amid apartment complexes and back alleys.

Dolan also seamlessly ties an already dangerous social landscape – home has been hell, and at least one of Char’s schoolmates is sociopathic – with the unknown perils of what’s happening with Angela. While the revelations are terrifying to Char, this world feels all of a piece to the viewer.

Die Hexen contributes the moody score, which adds to YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER’s air of timelessness.

Doupe gives a sensitive, reflective performance, and Craigie is a superb incarnation of a wise woman. Bracken adroitly handles Angela’s many aspects, as well as the many physical demands of the role. Jordanne Jones is likewise adept in playing one of Char’s peers, who gets to deliver the line that sums up YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER’s thesis: ““Family is the scariest f****g thing on the planet.”

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