Friday Film Review | "Mama's Boy"
“Mama’s Boy” is a documentary based on a memoir of the same title about Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s mother and her unbreakable bond with her son.
Many moons ago, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Dustin Lance Black, before he won an Oscar for best screenplay in 2008 for “Milk” and before he became a gay rights activist. He goes by Lance. He had a certain something about him and his story telling skills were through the roof.
A few years later, those skills are on full display in his latest project, “Mama’s Boy.” It’s a documentary directed by Laurent Bouzereau, adapted from Black’s memoir. It traces his life from a poor southern upbringing, to converted Mormon household, to Oscar winning gay rights activist.
But mostly it traces the life of his mother, Anne Bisch.
Black is such an engaging interview subject. His visceral accounts were so impactful - abuse at the hands of his stepfather, the love for his mother and their unbreakable bond, and how her crutches click clacking down the hall were the soundtrack of his life.
Black’s mom, Anne, was paralyzed from polio. She was told she would never have children, she had three sons, was told she would live out her days in a wheelchair, she got around on crutches, was told she would never have a job, she was a brilliant medical technologist and worked for the Department of Defense for 27 years.
She was fiercely religious, she had two bad marriages before finding her true love, and an abusive second husband almost killed her. But it was the bond with her boys that carried her through.
I found my mind wandering at certain points in the film. It was so depressing at times; I just wanted it to end. I kept holding onto the miracle of Black’s life and his ability to build bridges, with the Mormon church, with his deeply religious southern relatives and ultimately with his own past.
In the end it’s a testament to the human spirit. We must “fight for our lives” like Black did for his mother’s and still does so today.
“Mama’s Boy” is streaming on HBO. It runs one hour and 42 minutes and is not rated.