By: Shannon Page
Written and directed by Jeff Lipsky (Twelve Thirty, Molly’s Theory of Everything), Mad Women aims to challenge audience’s perceptions of desire and family by fearlessly ripping into taboo territory – but whether it succeeds or not is up for debate.
Nevada Smith (Kelsey Lynn Stokes) is an attractive young woman struggling to find her place in a family of over-achievers that include her older sister, a doctor working overseas; her father (Reed Birney), a successful dentist; and her mother (Christina Starbuck), a small-town mayoral candidate with large-scale, radical political ideas. When her mother begins a six-year campaign to encourage their town to secede from the United States and become an independent nation just as her father is arrested for statutory rape, Nevada is forced to confront the complex and unconventional relationship that she has with her mother.
For a film that approaches its perverse and potentially uncomfortable subject matter head-on, Mad Women makes for a startlingly dull moviegoing experience. The nonsensical and bizarre plotline is accompanied by frequent monologues, from main and secondary characters alike, that do little to move the film forward or enhance the story. It is never entirely clear why the audience should care about the characters, which makes their lengthy speeches lean more toward tedious then entertaining. It certainly doesn’t help that the dialogue and its delivery are often rigid and unnatural.
It’s hard to imagine that much of the film will resonate with audiences. There is nothing wrong with taking risks; great things happen when filmmakers bend, twist, and break conventional narrative techniques. In the case of this film, however, the intriguing approach taken to the subject matter is negated by a painfully slow pace and endless speechifying.
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Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage