During the opening scene of Mateusz Rakowicz's Mother's Day, we hear a voice on the radio telling us about the history of, well, Mother's Day. At the same time, we see a group of men harassing two girls outside a store. In such circumstances, the exhaustion on Nina's face suggests, "It's futile to celebrate things like Mother's Day when the women are molested every day." Agnieszka Grochowska plays Nina, and she gives an assured performance. When she looks at a picture of her son (Adrian Delikta) with his "mom and dad," she closes the laptop in frustration. And when her son bangs a door and screams for his freedom, she observes him quietly, as if finding the right words to deliver a revelation. Grochowska fills the gaps in the screenplay and adds extra dimensions to her character. In her hands, Nina becomes rather believable.
Nina is both physically and emotionally vulnerable. She freezes for a few seconds when she sees her son bound and gagged. She isn't afraid of getting into fights, though she also receives significant bruises. One of the most interesting things about the very first fight in the film is that it leaves both parties equally tired and injured. Thankfully, this quality remains in all the other fight sequences. The bad guys in Mother's Day are capable enough to inflict harm on Nina, and some of their bullets manage to hit the target. The only reason why Nina emerges as the winner is that she is more determined than the criminals. Go back to the action scene at the beginning and notice the moment when Nina gets up after the men clear out of her sight. We hear a wolf howling in the background, accentuating that she is no less than a wild animal.
Of course, Rakowicz has made Mother's Day mainly to impress us with well-shot, well-choreographed action sequences. And yes, he successfully impresses us in that department. The hand-to-hand combats are a symphony of violence. Every shot, every cut, and every movement clicks together and delivers intense enjoyment. Rakowicz (and, by extension, this movie) is at its best when he focuses on action. To keep the momentum from falling flat in other places, Rakowicz sprinkles amusing touches here and there. For instance, Nina suddenly holds a man's nose when he's busy delivering the usual bad guy speech. When a knife enters one of the thugs' heads, his companion asks, "Does it hurt?"
But it's the character of Volto (Szymon Wróblewski) who is infused with a lot of eccentricity. His body is barely covered with a red ribbon during his introduction scene. He sees his father's head floating inside a jar and says, "You won't look at me even now." Volto's superpower is his craziness. He laughs maniacally while assaulting his victims with tasers as if deriving powers from their brains. He gives a signal, and it's not just the music that stops playing, but even the characters freeze in their places. When Volto is frustrated, high-frequency noise is heard in the soundscape, further telling us that this is not any ordinary man. I wish more characters had been conceived with such quirky details, as it would have made Mother's Day more pleasurable. Instead, what we get is an old woman giving orders and a nerdy guy playing chess, both of whom fail to leave a dent.
The action is excellent, but the writing is weak here. There is a cop who deceives a character (it's a predictable twist) and justifies his behavior by saying he did it all for his daughter. A nuanced film would have filtered this character through a complex lens, but Mother's Day is content with painting him with generic shades. If only some amount of creativity had been directed towards the screenplay and had the plot consisted of ample tension and suspense, the movie would have been marvelous. It's a bit disappointing then that it mostly remains watchable.
Get all latest content delivered to your email a few times a month.
Bringing Pop Culture News from Every Realm, Get All the Latest Movie, TV News, Reviews & Trailers
Got Any questions? Drop an email to [email protected]