You Are Not My Mother – Film Review
by Katie McCann
Director – Kate Dolan
Writer – Kate Dolan
Stars – Hazel Doupe, Jade Jordan, Paul Reid
Cat Dolan’s debut feature is a bold and unnerving look at a family right on the edge. You Are Not My Mother follows Char, a bright young girl, if not a bit of an outsider, whose mother, while suffering under the weight of a mental illness, goes missing. She returns a day later but something has changed. She has changed. Could it be that her mother has come to her senses and gotten the help she needed or, more sinisterly, is she even her mother at all?
Hazel Doupe leads the cast as Char and plays the character with a fragile strength that has an audience rooting for her throughout. Director and writer Kate Dolan shows the horrors of teenage life as well as that of a girl lost in her own home brilliantly, creating a sense of rising tension and dread that claws at the viewer from the get-go.
The look and feel of the film is that of a world we know, an Ireland that we see and walk past every day with its council estates and nosy neighbours. But what sits just underneath is something ancient and vengeful. If you are familiar with the lore around changelings then you will know that not all fairy stories have a happy ending and the fairies of old Ireland are not the kind you want to mess with.
One real stand out strength in the film lies in how we are never truly sure if people are what they say they are. From Char’s Mom, Angela, to the school bully, Suzanne, it is key to remember here that looks can be deceiving and no one is as they first seem.
This is a film steeped in Irish lore and myth, wrapped up in a psychological horror that will have you questioning your perceptions throughout. Can you trust what you see? Is anything as it seems? For how can we be sure what is real or just the strain of living with a dysfunctional family finally taking its toll on a vulnerable young girl? You Are Not My Mother is a gripping new horror film and a standout debut from Cat Dolan who is most certainly a talent on the rise.