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Ma Ma 

Wednesday, Jun 1 2016
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Much like Emmanuelle Bercot's recent Standing Tall, Julio Medem's Ma Ma must be given credit for the fact that it's less irritating and fetishistic than Xavier Dolan's Mommy, but that remains a low bar. Magda (producer Penélope Cruz) is diagnosed with breast cancer not long after her husband has left her for a younger, blonder model. While undergoing chemotherapy, Magda soon bonds with Arturo (Luis Tosar), whose wife and daughter have died in a car accident. Arturo's also a soccer agent, which is convenient considering that Magda's son Dani (Teo Planell) dreams of playing professionally. Meanwhile, Magda is haunted by the ghost of a not-dead blond moppet (Anna Jiménez) she hopes to give birth to before she dies. Even knowing that Ma Ma is intended to be a woman's-weepie in the vein of Douglas Sirk's 1950s melodramas, nearly every storytelling and stylistic choice is baffling. Sirk was famous for his use of color to convey emotion, but this film's futuristic blue tones make its old-fashioned morality all the more jarring, while Medem treats the subject of cancer with as much grace as Tommy Wiseau did in The Room. And while there's no indication that the third act of Ma Ma takes place in Magda's head, it makes more sense if you assume it does.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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