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Reunited and It Feels So Good: Son Finds Birth Mom, Gets Weird in I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive

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I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive
Written and directed by Claude and Nathan Miller
Strand Releasing
Opens September 2, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

Father-son team Claude (a 40-year vet who launched Charlotte Gainsbourg's screen career with 1985's L'effrontée) and Nathan (making his feature-helming debut) Miller overcook an already lurid Oedipal drama based on actual events. Given up for adoption at age four, 20-year-old garage mechanic Thomas (Vincent Rottiers) reunites with his biological mom, Julie (Sophie Cattani)—a process he initiated eight years earlier. (The film cuts, sometimes awkwardly, between the child, preteen, and young-adult versions of its protagonist.) The Millers, perhaps concerned that viewers would be slow to recognize the weird sexual charge between mother and son, make sure that Thomas, who's kept his reconciliation with Julie a secret, says some variation of "I'm seeing someone" about three times too many before he stumbles across Polaroid nudies of the woman who pushed him out of her vagina. Even with this blunt treatment of the material, Rottiers appears lost and unsure, never really settling into his overdetermined role. Despite the clumsy script and a shaky acting partner, Cattani, at least, is fascinating to watch, never demanding audience sympathy: Julie slowly warms up to the child she abandoned but refuses to be swallowed up by maternal guilt.

 
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