MUM: The Everlasting Bond
Mum is an incredibly moving and profound short film about a transgender woman reconnecting with her ailing mother.
Mum is a brilliant new short film, packed with meaning and universal themes. Written and directed by Anne Marie O’Conner, it explores the facets of family issues and the love that binds them together, whether they like it or not.
Kate (Kate O’Donnell) is a trans woman, looking forward to visiting her ailing mother, Pam (Margot Leicester) and treating her to a “spa day”. It’s been four years since she’s been to visit last. Since her coming out, she hasn’t been very welcomed by her stepfather, Graham, played by Kenneth Colley, of Star Wars fame. As soon as Kate enters her mother’s house, she finds out how little the family has shared with her.
Graham is very curt with Kate, immediately calling for Pam as soon as he sees her, without even greeting her. Kate notices a wheelchair, which hadn’t been necessary before, and wonders what it’s all about. Kate then goes to her mother and finds her still in bed, not at all ready for a day out. Kate realizes her mother’s condition has worsened since the last time she saw her and no one bothered to tell her. She is understandably upset.
An argument with her stepfather ensues. Graham accuses her of only coming around on “high days and holidays” instead of being there when her mother really needs her. Kate reminds Graham – that’s because she is not welcome there.
The Ties That Bind
Sprinkled throughout the story-line are a handful of beautifully filmed vignettes of backstory on Kate as a child (known then as Andrew), and her mother. We see Kate, as Andrew, happily dancing in a field on a sunny day. We see Andrew and Pam in the bath together singing songs, Pam washing her child’s hair, like many mothers and children do. The love Pam has for her child is palpable, and these scenes add an emotional elegance that pull at the heartstrings. These scenes also set up the inevitable 180 degree change experienced, when a child goes from being cared for by a parent, to becoming the caregiver.
Though the tension in this family has something to do with Kate’s transition, it’s not the focus. It’s more about a family coming together, despite their differences, for the sake of one in need. This shift makes the story more relateable to a greater audience, therefore creating a wider level of connection and understanding. That is its inherent brilliance.
I wrote another review recently, about an LGBTQ documentary, Between The Shades. I discussed how important the film was for those who are uncomfortable with the LGBTQ community to see, because the director did an incredible job of humanizing every single interviewed person. She made them like friends and family, because, ultimately, that’s what they are.
With Mum, O’Connor does the same. The core of this film is the love between a child and their mother.
In a very short amount of time, O’Connor and her team are able to create three dimensional characters anyone can sympathize with. We don’t care whether someone is trans or cis gendered, because the characters are depicted as members of a family. We see them as the people they are and as parts of a larger family on Earth that we call Humanity. Who doesn’t have issues with their family, or certain members of their family? Substitute any number of issues a family could have or disagree about, and this film would instill the same message.
A great film connects us. It can be used as a way, not only to see ourselves, but to see different people as extensions of ourselves. What an absolute necessity that is, and Mum has done that. After all, if we see ourselves in someone else, aren’t we more likely to react with more care and greater understanding?
What did you think of Mum?
Mum can be seen at the Leed’s International Film Festival’s (UK) Hyde Park Picture House Nov. 4, 2017 starting from 4:15pm; and at Ireland’s Cork Film Festival, Nov. 14, 2017.
“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.” Read the Letter of Solidarity here. Make a donation to the legal fund here.