Mammoth shows a juxtaposition of the rich and poor societies we live in today through the lives of a modern American family and their live-in Fillipino maid.
Writer-director Moodysson weaves his outrage at the injustices of globalization together with an analysis of the hardships of modern parenthood in his ambitious English-language debut – but, as his protagonists learn the hard way, the best intentions don’t always guarantee the best results.
The lives of three young parents, New Yorker yuppie couple Leo (García Bernal) and Ellen (Williams) and their Filipino nanny Gloria (Necesito), who left her two sons at home in a bid to provide for their future, intersect to illustrate the darker side of modern economic power structures.
On a business trip to Thailand, Leo exposes hypocrisy where he sought refuge from western guilt: in New York, his doctor wife struggles to make time for their daughter between strenuous ER night shifts, and Gloria finds her family slowly spiralling towards disaster.
While there may not be anything new to learn here, it is hard to resist the cinematography’s powerful juxtapositions of first and third world: degrees of separation reduced to a haunting minimum. Footage of starving children scavenging the landfills in Gloria’s home town turn the sight of the American-sized fridge in her workplace into a condemnation.
But in his attempt to dump the weight of the world into one film, Moodysson – seemingly encumbered by a Hollywood cast and an eight-figure budget – seems to have bitten off more than he can chew.
MAMMOTH |Directed by Lukas Moodysson (Sweden et al. 2009) with Gael García Bernal, Michelle Williams, Marife Necesito. Opens in Berlin cinemas on June 10.