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The Godmother - Film Review

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Published May 6th 2021
Based on the award-winning novel by Hannelore Cayre
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Images © Les Films du Lendemain

The Godmother aka Mama Weed is directed by Jean-Paule Salomé and stars the effervescent Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot, Farida Ouchani, Liliane Rovere and Jade-Nadja Nguyen. Based on the award-winning novel by Hannelore Cayre who also co-wrote the script, Huppert is Patience Portefeux (Mama Weed), a middle-aged police interpreter who gets involved in the other side of drug dealing to become a wholesale narcotics trafficker. Armed with her insider knowledge of the law, Patience reinvents herself as a drug lord. The Godmother will be in cinemas 20 May 2021.

Working as an Arabic-to-French translator for a squad of narcotics officers headed up by the kind Philippe with whom she's having a casual liaison, Patience is also dealing with the expenses of having her feisty but ailing and ageing mother in an upmarket nursing home. Her money problems have been arduous, having been left two decades worth of debt by her dead husband while she champions being a single mum to her two daughters. Needless to say she's behind in her rent to her Chinese landlady as well.

Patience's new career takes off when she prevents a drug bust that would have resulted in the arrest of the son of her mother's favourite nurse; then she decides to steal a ton and a half of freshly delivered Moroccan hashish and distribute it herself. Her meek and gentle demeanour is more of a perfect disguise than the elaborate outfits, colourful headscarves and glamorous sunglasses she wears, which is more eye catching than incognito. Meanwhile, Philippe becomes obsessed with finding this mysterious new figure on the Parisian drug-trafficking scene. Being an insider, Patience is always ahead of the cat and mouse chase, until one day, it gets too close for comfort.

Working with two bumbling yet loveable drug vendors named Scotch and Cocapic aka Coca Puff; their incompetence eventually leads to a thrilling, heart stopping chase that'll have you off your seat rooting for the bad guys. This is not their first brush with the law.

Not a lot happens in the beginning and you might even find the film a bit slow going. Considering it deals with a hard subject like drugs, it's not an entirely gritty film, however, once the characters have been established, it takes off and is slickly paced with Huppert doing what she does best in a performance that is as compelling as it is compassionate. There's not much to fault with the cast of characters, or the lighthearted tone of the film.

The women cast in this film are especially wonderful. There's Patience's mum (Liliane Rovère) who is sarcastic, yet shows the sad acceptance of her lot in a life that's at the end of its road. Her mother's favourite nurse (Farida Ouchani) with her motherly demeanour is as large as life and provides the heart warming touch needed in the film. The Chinese landlady played by newcomer Nadja Nguyen is especially wonderful to watch. She's a natural at comedy with the tilt of her face and the look in her eye suggestive of sly and cunning innuendos as she provides Patience with surprising levels of camaraderie.

A joy in every scene, there should have been more subtle comedic interactions in the film with Nguyen. Perhaps a little taste was the better option as it leaves you wanting more. This film also solidifies the power of women's solidarity, especially with this cast of talented actresses whose performances supports Huppert's own. All in all, a delightful romp that'll put a smile on your face and a few chuckles to boot, as long as you're happy to go with the flow.

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Why? The Godmother (2020) - Film Review
When: In Cinemas 20 May 2021
Where: Australia
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by Kitty Goodall on 14/05/2021
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