Unfortunately the movie ‘Mammoth‘ doesn’t match the expectation that the trailer makes us build. The film was all drama and I had hoped to see more than that. It tries too hard to create tension and suspense but at the end nothing happens. It tries to take on too many themes, but doesn’t fully explore anything specific and this is why it fails.
This is the first movie in English by the Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, he is full of new ideas that are not found in Hollywood. ‘Mammoth’ focuses on a upper-middle class family that lives in New York City. Leo (Gael García Bernal) creator of a website for video game fanatics, enters a world new to him of travel and more money which he is not used to. Business takes him away from his family to explore Thailand, a third world country where he is all alone and out of place, at this point the movie touches upon the brutal poverty and child abuse found there. His wife Ellen (Michelle Williams) is a doctor and because of the demands her career entitles she doesn’t have much time for her family, with her husband’s absence she realizes that at home she feels like a stranger and bored. Their only daughter Jackie (Sophie Nyweide) spends most of her time with her nanny, Gloria (Marife Necesito) and although she has no other option she prefers this than spending time with her mother; on the other hand Gloria who is from the Philippines treats Jackie like a daughter but is always thinking about her family in her native land.
Despite the fact that the movie is not good enough to welcome Moodysson with open arms, we have to appreciate the fact that he chose a Latin star in Gael García Bernal to be his main character in a movie that opens the door to him to the English speaking world. It’s surprising to see Gael García Bernal playing the role of an American who doesn’t have a trace to the latin world whatsoever. It’s a good thing that Moodysson tries to make the movie universal by filming in different places of the planet, but it’s disappointing that the film doesn’t have much essence. The movie tries to leave us with the moral that family is more important than anything.
The message at the end is confusing though, it goes in a circle that makes us feel as if nothing happened; there’s no resolution or epiphany. It is also hard to feel bad for a family who seem to have everything, although the contrast with Gloria’s family who lives almost in complete poverty in the Philippines is a very interesting touch. I would like to support a director that doesn’t focus on Hollywood and an actor like Gael García Bernal who with his talent will get far, but I don’t think this movie will help much for that.
I don’t think it’s worth coming out of the movie theater confused and a little upset because this movie makes a twirl that leaves us dizzy.