Mammoth Gael Garcia Bernal

The problems with Lukas Moodysson’s first film in English (plus Thai and Tagalog) cannot be ascribed to language barriers. He’s fluent in English, and made the unforgettable Lilya 4-Ever (02) without speaking a word of Russian, demonstrating he’s exempt from that particular handicap. The real trouble with Mammoth is that Moodysson, more practiced in subtlety than he’s given credit for, exhibits none here. He labors to make a point, and his take on globalism and its effects on modern family life lacks the heart and emotional complexity that distinguish his early features Show Me Love (98) and Together (00). Even A Hole in My Heart (04) still wielded the power to evoke empathy.

Mammoth takes excursions to Thailand and the Philippines, but is based in New York, where its central couple, played by Michelle Williams and Gael García Bernal, reside. She slaves away as an ER doctor, he’s made an easy fortune in the video-game racket. Neither has any personality. Their 8-year-old daughter prefers the company of the Filipina nanny, who in turn yearns to be to be back home with her two young sons. And the chain doesn’t end there…

It’s the kind of lofty film that if made by Alejandro González Iñárritu or Paul Haggis would inevitably be labeled “important.” This one will most likely be ignored. It’s surely a disappointment for those anticipating Moodysson’s return to narrative after a brief (and interesting) detour into the experimental, but the good news is that the record remains impressive: five for six.