I Love My Mum review – on the road from Morocco | Film

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What does it say about the film industry that while Michael Fassbender has ended up in Hollywood, his equally compelling co-stars in Andrea Arnold’s breakthrough Fish Tank, Kierston Wareing and Katie Jarvis, have been left behind in EastEnders’ Albert Square? Wareing, who had worked with Ken Loach (on 2007’s It’s a Free World …) before Fish Tank, lands a starring role of sorts here, as a castrating mother in a scattershot comedy that sets out like a hybrid of Ray Cooney farce and Channel 4 reality show, and winds up making the most eccentric contribution yet to the recent wave of migration movies. Its heart remains broadly in the right place, yet there are points where you question just where its head is.

I Love My Mum opens in Tilbury, with none-more-Essex lad Ron (Tommy French) involved in another contretemps with his mother, Wareing’s blowsy Olga. This one ends with Ron crashing his car into a cargo container that – in the first of several oh-just-go-with-it contrivances – is sealed up and shipped to Morocco, where mum and son emerge bedraggled, and broke and visa-less. (There are weird frissons as Wareing wanders the souks in dressing gown and slippers.)

As the pair navigate back to the European mainland – via stolen taxi, a raft filled with African refugees, and a pedalo – some of the surface eccentricities clear to reveal a familiar story: that of two antagonistic fish out of water who realise they need one another more than they realised.

There’s evidence here that a few weeks of location shooting can open up a low-budget production, and Spanish-born indie scrabbler Alberto Sciamma (Killer Tongue, Anazapta) sporadically unleashes ideas that dig an elbow into your ribs and force out a chuckle, such as having Ron’s beachside tryst with a singing senorita interrupted by a literally incandescent Olga, dressing gown in flames. Yet the writing rarely rises above bizarro sketchiness, and if you think the deployment of mute migrants as a plot device is glib, wait until you see the punchline. French and Wareing make an endearing if cartoonish couple: scenes in which the latter strides towards the Pyrenees in a pair of fringed Uggs mean the film counts as one of Brexit cinema’s livelier, odder footnotes.

Source: The Guardian
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