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'The Whore's Son'

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The Whore's Son
Directed by Michael Sturminger
Picture This!, opens April 28, Quad

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A coolly detached melodrama of mother-child resentment, Michael Sturminger's film sometimes suggests a clear-eyed inversion of a 1940s women's picture—Mildred Pierce as told through the eyes of Ann Blyth's ungrateful Vera. Except the movie's sulky child is a Viennese boy, Ozren (played at various stages by three different actors), who accepts that fabulous sexpot mom Silvija (Chulpan Khamatova) goes out every night in spangly miniskirts and furs to sling hash—until the epithet "whore's son" makes him wonder what Mom's really serving. Once grown, Ozren (Stanislav Lisnic) desperately craves the maternal love his high-class call-girl mother no longer has to give—except as wages. The grave comic presence of Miki Manojlovic (from Kusturica's Underground) as Ozren's worldly uncle stabilizes the movie's tantalizingly uncertain tone, at least until its bizarre closing plunge into Oedipal catharsis. But the slicing camerawork of Fassbinder/Haneke collaborator Jurgen Jurges underscores the bitter message: We don't always know what we want from our parents, only what we're not getting.

 
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