Stage Mother – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Thom Fitzgerald
Starring: Jacki Weaver, Lucy Liu, Adrian Grenier, Mya Taylor, Allister MacDonald, Oscar Moreno, Jackie Beat
In cinemas from July 24th. Special Previews on July 16th
You’ll have to forgive me if I get a bit emotional writing this review but the press screening marked the first time I’d been back in a cinema since March 14th. It is also the first review where I have been able to write a cinema release date for rather than listing a streaming link in nearly four months, so it feels somewhat momentous.
Weaver plays Maybelline, a conservative Texan choir mistress, who inherits her son’s San Francisco gay bar when he dies suddenly. She immediately clashes with his partner Nathan (Grenier) but finds allies in the Drag Queens at the bar. Determined to honour her son’s memory she puts her musical training to use creating a new sell-out show. Much like Mary Poppins for Drag Queens, she turns the bar’s fortunes around and also manages to improve the lives of everyone in it while also discovering that she is more than just a suburban housewife.
Weaver is extremely likeable as Maybelline and brings warmth and sincerity to the character. She is hampered somewhat by a cumbersome script with stilted dialogue that often seems to be trying to rush through the story rather than let it breathe – something that affects all the performances.
Grenier is poorly cast as the grieving partner of Maybelline’s son. It feels as if he dials it in and he never seems to inhabit the character. However, Liu is great as Sienna, a struggling single mother who helps Maybelline navigate the strange new world she finds herself in.
Despite the script issues this movie manages to shine once it’s in the drag club where the Queens put on some amazing performances. There are more showstoppers than you can shake a stick at and the costumes are a visual delight.
Overall this feels very “safe” It could have been far edgier, but it doesn’t take chances and sticks to a tried and tested formula peppered with a clichéd character or two. Despite this, it is very heartwarming and sweet and leaves you with a smile on your face (and not just because you haven’t been to a cinema in months!)
This won’t become a cult classic like Priscilla Queen of the Dessert but it will leave you with the warm and fuzzies and after months of lockdown that’s definitely something we all need.