#TIFF23: “MOTHER, COUCH”
By Amanda Gilmore
Swedish Writer-Director Niclas Larsson makes his English language feature debut with this surreal familial drama starring a masterful Ewan McGregor. It follows three estranged siblings who reunite when their mother (Ellen Burstyn) refuses to get off a couch at a furniture store. Mother, Couch is a story about the immense impact a mother has on her children. For the sake of this story, her youngest son David (McGregor). It has a similar tone and themes as Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid from earlier this year. The two would make for one wacky double feature.
It starts off as a quirky Domestic Drama. David assumes something is wrong when his mother refuses to get off the couch. He’s got a million other things to worry about and wishes she would just tell him why. But soon we realize that things aren’t as straightforward as they seem.
For one, his brother Gruffudd (Rhys Ifans) is more interested in flirting with the store owner’s daughter Bella (Taylor Russell) than worrying about his mother. Russell is outstanding as the enigma that is Bella. Giving her the immense mystery that gives us hints that this furniture shop, which has many homely rooms decorated, may not be what it seems. Then there’s the ominous Score by Christopher Bear that creates an atmosphere of horror and anxiety, sending us directly into the headspace of David. McGregor gives a momentous performance as a man stressed while attempting to hold it together.
There’s ample amounts of mystery throughout Mother, Couch that will keep audiences guessing until the eccentric ending. And much like Beau Is Afraid, it’s an ending audiences will be dissecting long after viewing.
Mother, Couch screens at TIFF ’23:
Saturday, September 9 at 2:30 PM at Royal Alexandra Theatre
Monday, September 11 at 12:30 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Sunday, September 17 at 3:30 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto