Disjointed look at lesbian mothers

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Monday December 23, 2019
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Disjointed look at lesbian mothers

Italian filmmaker Karole Di Tommaso offers "Mom + Mom," a comedy-drama based on her own real-life experiences. The film tells the story of Karole (Linda Caridi) and Ali (Maria Roveran), a lesbian couple in Italy who want to start a family. There's only one thing standing in their way: bigoted local laws that forbid LGBT couples from becoming parents. Undaunted, the women go to a fertility clinic in Spain, where Ali attempts to become pregnant.

Caridi and Roveran are immensely likable in the lead roles and have good chemistry as an onscreen couple. The film is effective in displaying their frustration at having to deal with prejudicial laws and their frustrating struggle to become mothers. Problem is, the film is very disjointed, with many supporting characters coming and going without explanation.

For example, in one scene Ali is interviewing a poet. Why Ali is interviewing the poet is never explained. Is she a journalist? That's never made clear. But in a touching twist, the fertility clinic calls in the middle of the interview, and the poet offers to drive them all the way to Spain.

One character who gets more screen time than he deserves is Andrea, the women's roommate. He's inconsiderate, appears not to work, doesn't pay rent, borrows money, and holds them back from attaining their goals. Why do they put up with him? Why don't they throw him out? This, too, is never made clear.

There are some genuinely touching scenes, such as when the women express their frustration over the fact that Ali is not yet pregnant. And there's one lovely scene in which Karole comes out to her grandfather.

"Know why I never brought home a man?" Karole says. "Because I've never liked men. I like women better."

Grandpa's reaction is priceless. "What's the problem?" he asks. "Even hens like to be together. They only need the rooster to make eggs."

By contrast, Karole is unable to talk to her mother, a source of sadness for her. "How come you're the only one I can't talk to?" she wonders. "I can't seem to tell you, of all people, that just like you, I want to become a mother, too."

The film touches upon the financial hardships that come with attempting to get pregnant via In Vitro Fertilization. Karole and Ali aren't rich. It's a struggle for them to come up with the fees the clinic is charging them, and the film powerfully addresses that issue.

Caridi and Roveran are likable actors who convey a wide range of emotions as the story unfolds. Most importantly, they paint a beautiful portrait of two women in love. When they look at each other, when they touch, and when they kiss, they are convincing as soulmates who love each other deeply. Unfortunately, the film has too many secondary characters who contribute nothing to the story, who are supposed to be funny but aren't, and this brings the film down a few notches.

There are a lot of good things in "Mom + Mom." It's just not the kind of story that lends itself well to comedy. The mix of comedy and drama makes the film feel disjointed. A more serious approach to the story would have been far preferable. Had there been more scenes in which Karole and Ali share their emotional intimacy, more interludes like the lovely scene with the grandfather, then it could have been a really good film. It's in Italian with clear, easy-to-read subtitles. Now available on DVD.