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Awesome: 31.82%
Worth A Look36.36%
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3 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Mother of Tears
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by Mel Valentin

"A late-career gasp from a past-his-prime Dario Argento."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: In the second scene of Dario Argento’s ("The Stendhal Syndrome," "Trauma," "Opera," "Phenomena," "Tenebrae," "Inferno," "Suspiria," "Deep Red," "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage") third film in his “Three Mothers” trilogy ("Suspiria" and "Inferno" were the first and second, respectively), "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother," hooded figures attack a woman, stab her in the mouth, slash her stomach, and strangle her with her own intestines while a malevolent monkey screeches nearby. Yes, Dario Argento is back on form, torturing and murdering his female characters in gruesome, bizarre, always gratuitous ways with little or no relation to story logic, while, once again, making Argento look like a misogynist, a claim he’s fought against throughout his filmmaking career working within the horror genre.

Mother of Tears: The Third Mother opens with the discovery of a 19th-century coffin and an urn by several priests and an excavation team outside of the Viterbo Cemetery in Italy. The priests decide to send the urn to a museum in Rome and the museum’s curator, Michael Pierce (Adam James). In his absence, Pierce’s assistant, Giselle Mares (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni), and an intern, Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento), sign for the urn. Letting their curiosity get the better of them, they decide to open the urn. Giselle cuts her hand, letting blood drip on the urn. After opening the urn and discovering several objects, including three statutes, presumably of three goddesses, and a red tunic covered with lettering from an ancient language, Giselle sends Sarah to retrieve Aramaic and Mycenaean dictionaries from another part of the museum. Before Sarah returns, hooded figures, followers of the Mater Lachrymarum (Moran Atias), the newly resurrected third witch of the title, arrive and kill Giselle.

Sarah manages to escape, first spending the night at Pierce’s apartment, and then, after the followers of the Mater Lachrymarum kidnap Pierce’s young son, Sarah seeks out help from Padre Johannes (Udo Kier), an expert on the occult and, specifically, the three mothers, Marta Colussi (Valeria Cavalli), a white witch who adds to Sarah’s knowledge base and helps Sarah develop her newfound powers (she’s a white witch too). Marta fills Sarah in on her past, including the details surrounding the death of Sarah’s mother, Elisa (Daria Nicolodi). The Mater Lachrymarum sends her followers to track down and kill Sarah and anyone who’s helped Sarah. Sarah also has to deal with a detective, Enzo Marchi (Cristian Solimeno), who doesn’t believe her. Meanwhile, the Mater’s presence in Rome triggers an outbreak of suicides, homicides, and all around bad attitudes.

Mother of Tears is far less coherent (or interesting, for that matter) than the preceding description might indicate. Obviously working from a limited budget (one look at the cheap, unconvincing practical effects will tell you as much), Argento’s trademark visual flair is nowhere to be found as are his customarily baroque set pieces. With the exception of the crane shot that opens Mother of Tears and one or two Steadicam shots, Mother of Tears has none of Argento’s excessive visual style. What the Mother of Tears does have is an incoherent, illogical storyline that relies on an inexpressive, passive character, Sarah, gathering bits of information (read: exposition) from various sources, then moving on as the newly expendable character dies violently and on to the next, soon-to-be-expendable character, until finally, she grows a spine and decides to take on and defeat the Mater herself with help from a previously antagonistic source that appears out of nowhere.

If you’re familiar with Argento’s oeuvre, then you won’t be surprised in learning that female characters get the worst of it. Besides the first character, strangled with her intestines, another female character has her eyes gouged out before being stabbed to death, her partner, also a woman, is murdered by a spear inserted through her genitalia and, finally, another female character dies when she’s penetrated by a spear-like rock. Certainly, male characters die violently too, but the deaths of the male characters take less screen time and usually involve a few stabs to the chest or back or a throat slashing. No, Argento saves his inventiveness for his female characters. And that says nothing about Argento’s depiction of the witches that ranges from the laughably ridiculous (e.g., glam-rock stylings) to the cheaply pornographic (as the epitome of female evil, the Mater walks around bottomless).

With that in mind, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Argento hasn’t changed and, at 67, probably won’t change (or doesn’t care to change), but attitudes about women and the representations of women and sexuality certainly have, making Argento a relic of another time, a filmmaker best appreciated for his early work with the "giallo" genre and for the excesses of his late 70s and early 80s work (e.g., "Opera," "Phenomena," "Inferno," "Suspiria," "Deep Red," "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage") and not for his more recent, sup-par work, especially "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother." And to think "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother" actually premiered last September at the Toronto International Film Festival (why is hard to fathom).

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16448&reviewer=402
originally posted: 05/03/08 10:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival For more in the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2008 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/01/14 Tezwhkao A meal begins to be that you to have clearly base a fat and calories much faster. Capsiplex 4 stars
7/04/09 mr.mike Hss enough moments to please genre fans. 4 stars
1/06/09 FrankNFurter This Argento abortion made me dry heave,and burn my copy of Deep Red.Shittastic & sloppy! 1 stars
12/03/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
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  06-Jun-2008 (R)
  DVD: 23-Sep-2008


  DVD: 23-Sep-2008

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