THE PERFECT MOTHER
On the surface, The Perfect Mother feels like a Harlan Coben adaptation. Turns out it’s not. The French series that shuttles between Paris and Berlin is based on Nina Darnton’s book of the same name and follows a mother’s single-minded quest to prove that her daughter is innocent after being arrested for murder. However, as the drama plays out, the rollercoaster chain of events quickly blur the thin line between victim and perpetrator.
First, we skip to the good part. At just four episodes, The Perfect Mother is well, the perfect length, for a thriller of this nature. I don’t know about you, but in these times of shrinking attention spans, I find it difficult to watch a series that plays out over eight-nine episodes, especially if each episode is upwards of 40 minutes. Unless, of course, it’s a highly engrossing watch. The Perfect Mother does well on that count.
What it also does well is setting up the initial intrigue and the backstory of the crime through the trope of the unreliable narrator. On her birthday, Helene Berg (a scene-stealing Julie Gayet) gets a call from her daughter Anya (played by Eden Ducourant) that she’s walking into a police station as the prime suspect after being at the scene of a homicide the night before. Helene immediately rushes from Berlin to Paris, where Anya is pursuing her education, and enlists the help of her former lover, a lawyer, to bail Anya out of the mess. However, as Anya keeps changing her version of what happened on that fateful night, Helene realises that things are not what they seem to be.
Hinged on the seesaw of doing what’s right and a mother’s unconditional love for her child, The Perfect Mother starts off well and keeps hurling one surprise after another. But what could have been a taut thriller starts unravelling soon enough, with the plot holes large enough to drive a truck through. The series depends too much on its unreliable narrator to deliver the surprises, but ends up being predictable. However, I would recommend it just on the basis of its performances and the fact that it’s a short, compact watch.
Available on: Netflix
The name Asghar Farhadi is enough to make cinephiles across the world look forward to a film. A Hero, however, has been mired in controversy, with Farhadi — one of the most celebrated film-makers in the world, whose film A Separation won an Oscar a decade ago — being accused of plagiarism, with a court declaring him guilty. Farhadi, who was present at Cannes last month, has vociferously denied the allegations. The good news is that A Hero is now streaming.
Stamped with the Farhadi signature of the interplay between morality, personal ethics, honesty and cynicism, A Hero has the director looking at the tough life of his protagonist through a gentle, heartwarming, emotional lens. A Hero slowly builds a thought-provoking and complex tale that questions the value of honour and integrity in modern society, with Farhadi cutting deeper than what’s on the surface. The performances are exceptional, the cinematography impactful and the soundscape stark.
Available on: Amazon Prime Video