MAMA WEED (LA DARONNE) (2020)
Starring Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot, Farida Ouchani, Liliane Rovère, Iris Bry, Jade Nadja Nguyen, Rebecca Marder, Rachid Guellaz, Mourad Boudaoud, Youssef Sahraoui, Kamel Guenfoud, Abbes Zahmani, Yann Sundberg, Michaël Louchart, Raphaël Quenard, Mounir Kateb, Dominique Jayr, Emilie Lacroix, Léonore Confino and Jeanne Deprez.
Screenplay by Hannelore Cayre and Jean-Paul Salomé in collaboration with Antoine Salomé.
Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé.
Distributed by Music Box Films. 106 minutes. Not Rated.
Beyond the obvious fact that any time you get a chance to see a film starring Isabelle Huppert is time well spent, what does Mama Weed have to offer?
It turns out to have a lot going for it, even though it is not the most original storyline out there – a seemingly square, staid person who through circumstance and money problems sort of by accident finds herself in the dangerous racket of selling drugs. However, Mama Weed is funny and quirky and occasionally rather action packed. And did I mention that it stars Isabelle Huppert?
Patience (Huppert), our heroine (who does not sell heroin) is even more unlikely a choice for surprise drug kingpin than most. She is the mother of two grown daughters. Her mother is in a nursing home with dementia, Patience is dating the head of the Paris police vice squad and often does translation for the squad on wiretaps.
However, through conversations she has, you quickly get the strong feeling that Patience’s parents and her late husband were both involved some not completely legal money-making schemes. You also get the idea, no matter how buttoned down she seems on the outside, that Patience was sympathetic to that lifestyle. In fact, she often teases her cop boyfriend about being too caught up in laws and rules.
Her involvement happens when she realizes one of the wiretaps that she is listening in on is the sweet nurse who watches over her mother at the old age home. The nurse is speaking with her son, who it turns out is suspected of being a driver and smuggler in a huge criminal hash deal.
Since the nurse has been particularly good to her mother, Patience decides to warn her that her son is driving into a sting. She suggests he pull off the highway and hide his contraband so that when he is pulled over, he won’t get into as much trouble. While the son and the drug kingpins are cooling their heels in jail as the gendarmes are trying to track down the drug shipment, Patience and the nurse decide to steal the drugs and Patience will sell them herself – so that Patience can pay for her mother’s care, and that the nurse can pay for her son’s defense lawyer.
Patience disguises herself and starts selling off the stash. However, when the drug kingpins get out, they want to find out where their drugs are, and they aren’t happy to find someone is already selling them. Plus, the police, as led by her boyfriend, are also hot on the tail of “Mama Weed,” as the cops have started calling her.
That nickname, which became the American title, doesn’t exactly make sense – she is not selling marijuana, she’s selling hashish. The original French title La Daronne – which translates to simply The Mom, is probably more accurate.
It’s all played off as a cute and funny adventure, which the film is, although no one really seems to think about the addicts taking the drugs and how all this affects their lives. However, Mama Weed is not trying to get that deep into the dark side of the situation. It’s a Gallic version of the unexpected gangster fantasy – little things like violence, thievery, murder and addiction happen, but our main character mostly tries to stay above the fray. We mostly forgive her because she is doing bad things for good reasons.
And did I mention that Isabelle Huppert was terrific? Well, I guess that goes without saying.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 16, 2021.