MILF (2018) by Axelle Laffont

Just another sex comedy on Netflix

If instead of the women, the film would have been made from the perspective of the boys, it still would have been the same. This is tragic. It proves that apart from familiar stories of affairs between younger men and older women, the film doesn’t have anything more to offer. It is just another sex comedy on Netflix.

2 out of 4 stars

‘Aren’t I supposed to give the orders?’

I like films that tend to be themselves and not give more than you bargained for. Because films that think they are giving you more almost every time fail miserably. They think vacations come with moments that will give their characters life-altering enlightenment. It’s easier to show the path of moral greatness to the younger lot. So such films tend to be about the youngsters, while the older people are like decorative items on the mantelpiece in the background. Thus you end up getting a few youngsters who do the same things every time. Furthermore, they end up receiving the same set of morals that you would think they should have known already.

Here we are viewing the developments from the perspective of those on the mantelpiece. They are the older ones, three women in their 40’s. Sonia (Marie-Josée Croze), Cecile (Virginie Ledoyen), and Elise arrive at a house Cecile used to live three years back with her ex. The house immediately reminds Cecile of him. For the next half hour, the film will essentially be about these women. There are three young boys, but we view them as these women will view them. While having sex, Elise tells her dominating boy, ‘aren’t I supposed to give the orders?’. There is underlying domination in the way they operate with their boys. It essentially emerges from the liberation that they are encountering in their personal lives. The boys seem like doodles on paper, taking shape the way the women’s thoughts keep running. The developments feel a new take on an older genre, also because the film has a female director (Axelle Laffont, who also plays Elise). What also appears promising is the number of writers involved in the film. Too many cooks do spoil the broth but show some promise before that.

‘I just saw you with your son’

It’s thus frustrating then that the women do not become truly interesting characters. One would expect that the rare platform that these characters have received should pave the way for a solid pay-off. But that does not occur. Elise, Cecile, and Sonia never evolve to become multi-dimensional characters. The filmmakers, in comparison, seem to understand where the frustration of the boys resides. Sonia’s boy feels that he is emotionally incapable to console her while she’s crying. He wants to be the man on whose shoulders she can rest her head. These rare moments call for real palpable anguish.

But the rest of the film opts to become the one-dimensional vacation comedy romances that we are seeing aplenty nowadays. The women fail to rise above their love affairs and also fail the Bechdel test miserably. Bechdel test involves looking into whether the conversations between two female characters concern something other than a man for a considerable time of the work. Deemed initially as the passing affairs of a vacation, all these three women seem to finally care for are the boys. The threads end with ample emotional discharges that signal heavier emotional baggage which gives them more weight than they deserve. But contrastively, the exchanges are simple. Sonia tells her boy that she is a complicated person. We don’t see any of it. What we see instead are relationships that are driven by superficial factors like age and commitment issues. When it comes to affairs between younger men and older women, you tend to expect these problems. The film, therefore, doesn’t give us anything new. Only a newer frame for an old picture. Only another sex comedy on Netflix.

Credits (from IMDb):
Directed by

Axelle Laffont

Written by

Jérôme L’hotsky … (original scenario) &
Stéphane Kramer … (original scenario)
Axelle Laffont … (adaptation) &
Jean-François Halin … (adaptation)
Alain Layrac … (collaboration) &
Jonathan Cohen … (collaboration) &
David Lanzmann … (collaboration) &
Lilou Fogli … (collaboration)

Cinematography by

Pierre Aïm

Editing by

Clemence Samson

More:

Project Gio (2019) by Bas van Teylingen

Project Gio (2019) by Bas van Teylingen

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