By William Wolf

LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER!  Send This Review to a Friend

Gayle Kirschenbaum’s documentary memoir of life with her mother, Mildred, starts giving the impression that this could turn out to be a rather ho-hum reflection more of interest to the participants than to viewers at large. But gradually the film builds until we get to appreciate the now elderly Mildred and the mother-daughter friendship that emerges after years of snippiness and woe.

Kirschnbaum skillfully chronicles, with narration, clips, home movies and family history, her own feelings that she was a rejected child. We see the family background on Long Island, and follow the course of the relationship. One senses that the mother disliked the daughter, who spent a lifetime of tension with her mom. Interestingly, Mildred agreed to participate in the documentary.

As she and Gayle take trips together and talk out their troubles and impressions of each other, we see the gap lessening and a breakthrough occurring. What’s more, we get an amusing and revealing view of Mildred as a feisty person capable of sharp, amusing comments and her own take on her life and her daughter.

There is a fascinating section in which mother and daughter are shown in guidance therapy with Lois Braverman of the renowned Ackerman Institute for the Family. I found this portion personally interesting, as I know Braverman and I am very familiar with the dedication of the Institute in helping a wide range of families understand and surmount their problems. The discussions captured on film especially grasp one’s attention.

Ultimately “Look at Us Now, Mother!” arrives at a status in which mother and daughter each appreciate one another more. There is still remaining tension, of course, but the filmmaker had demonstrated how walls can be breached and efforts at getting to know one better can prove worthwhile and illuminating. A Kirschenbaum Productions release. Reviewed April 8, 2016.

  

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