The Bad Mother’s Handbook – DVD Review

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The Bad Mother's Handbook

America’s favourite vampire keeps popping up in various movies that we either forgot about or never heard about. One such film is The Bad Mother’s Handbook, a one-off television drama based on the best-selling novel by Kate Long. It was broadcast on ITV in England in 2007, and made its way to DVD in North America this month. Starring Catherine Tate, Anne Reid, Holly Grainger and Robert Pattinson, the show received strong viewing when it was originally shown on television.

The Bad Mother’s Handbook depicts the story of one year in the lives of three women. Tate plays Karen, who is a frustrated woman in her thirties whose whole life and identity are shattered when she discovers a long-kept secret. Tate plays Karen’s clever and hormonal teenage daughter Charlotte, while Anne Reid appears as Karen’s mother, Nan, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Pattinson is Charlotte’s nerdy new friend, Daniel Gale.

The movie presents an insight into the life of motherhood and childhood, dwelling on the themes that no two mothers are alike, but that ultimately love is the most important thing of all.

It’s a bit like a British version of Juno, with the exception that none of the characters are loveable. In fact, the only real emotional response is the hate one feels for Karen. Tate plays Karen perfectly as a heartless “bad” mother. It takes her daughter’s venture into motherhood before she breaks down and shows her affection. Pattinson is more of a supporting character, which started off dry and lame, but eventually grew on me.

Maybe it’s the “chick-flick” factor, but I just didn’t understand the need for this movie. Similar to Juno, it wasn’t really a love story or a compelling look at one’s life, but more of a hard luck look at a chapter in the character’s lives. As a book it has a place and is well written, but as a movie it seems rather lame.

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