The Good Mother

One more nail in the coffin of the 60s. While I haven’t read the best-selling novel by Sue Miller that this movieadapted by Michael Bortman, directed by Leonard Nimoy (Three Men and a Baby), and starring Diane Keatonis based on, I assume that it is concerned in part with the bitter fate of bohemian lifestyles in a reactionary period like the present. Specifically, the heroine (played by Keaton here), a divorcee and devoted mother of a young daughter, has a nasty custody battle after her ex-husband learns about her going around nude with her Irish sculptor lover (Liam Neeson) in front of the daughter and teaching her about sex. The film, while obviously well intentioned, sabotages its project in classic Hollywood style by giving Keaton the sort of wardrobe and apartment that makes nonsense of her newly acquired Harvard Square bohemian lifestyle, and the morose defeatism of the plot by which Keaton and Neeson lose their case through compromise is reflected in the pussyfooting style of the movie itself, in more ways than one. With a start that’s like a combined remake of Baby Boom and An Unmarried Woman, the movie doesn’t adequately prepare one for the puritanical tragedy that follows, and Keaton’s skittish performance often detracts from the overall project by making her postliberated self seem every bit as repressed as her uptight ex-husband (James Naughton). With Ralph Bellamy and Teresa Wright as the heroine’s grandparents, and Jason Robards as her lily-livered lawyer. (JR)

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