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By Jessica Tomberlin
DIFF Writer

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Each of these films from the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival Narrative Features category center on strong female lead characters playing maternal roles within their respective films. Although they approach the subject in very different ways, each narrative revolves around a family dynamic, particularly focusing on the relationship between mother and child.

This theme played close to home for director Eric Hueber’s narrative feature debut, FLUTTER, a film he wrote after the death of his mother.

“He lost his mother in 2010 and we shot in 2012, so he was still very much under the influence of the loss of the woman he described as the most significant person in his life,” said lead actor and executive producer Glen Morshower.

FLUTTER tells the story of Jonathan, a young boy with a big imagination who suffers from severe narrow angle glaucoma, causing his eyes to constantly flutter, hence the film’s title. Jonathan’s mother, JoLynn (Lindsay Pulsipher) is left to care for him on his own while his father (Jessie Plemons) tours the country as a musician. With limited resources, she’s forced to use some unconventional methods when her son’s prescribed medication causes him to suffer severe side effects. Jolynn’s character demonstrates the enduring love a mother has for her child, and the endless sacrifices they will make for them.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.30.17 AMAccording to Morshower, the family ties ran deep both on and off the screen for the cast and crew of FLUTTER. Not only by blood – Jonathan Huth Jr., a non-actor who plays the son in the film opposite Pulsipher, is also Hueber’s nephew – but also through their mutual passion for the film.

“(Eric) chose to work with Jonathan because he’s watched him handle nystagnus his entire life and he’s always liked the way he and Jonathan interacted,” says Morshower. “He’s always found him interesting to watch so he thought this would be a great way to enter into the shallow end of the pool as a director by doing it with family and then surrounding himself with people he felt a connectedness with, which was us, and Eric felt like family with us in a very short period of time.”

In contrast, CHILD’S POSE examines a darker side of the mother-and-son relationship, one that evolves when a mother’s unconditional love for her child reaches the point of obsession.

Luminita Gheorghiu (THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU) stars in the film as a wealthy Bucharest architect who will stop at nothing to keep her estranged 30-something son out of jail after he is the cause of a deadly car accident, despite the fact that the two are barely on speaking terms.

While this slice of life film revolves mostly around Gheorghiu’s character, it analysis the tragedy from the perspective of both families and multiple points of view, and examines what can happen when the mother/child relationship is lost or threatened in some way.

According to director Călin Peter Netzer. CHILD’S POSE is “a film about a pathological mother-and-son relationship, about children’s positions relative to their parents and vice versa, and about parents losing their children in one way or another. The characters are analyzed, or rather psycho-analyzed, in an effort to help the viewer understand and perhaps even feel compassion towards this scarred family.”

A117_C002_0418MHWhile OBVIOUS CHILD approaches hard subjects in terms of the mother’s relationship with her child, director Gillian Robespiere also incorporates a lot of humor into the story. Frustrated by the limited representations of young women in cinema director Robespiere, set out to tell a story that took an honest look at a modern day twenty-something female navigating her way through adulthood.

The film stars Jenny Slate as Donna Slate, an aspiring comedian who discovers she is pregnant shortly after losing both her job and her boyfriend. With her life spiraling out of control, Donna is forced to face the situation head on, and in doing so she eventually discovers her own inner strength.

Robespierre’s narrative approaches the subject of unwanted pregnancy from a refreshing point of view, combining both comedy and heart she creates a female character that feels refreshingly authentic.


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