A Mother’s Fury
A Mother’s Fury, despite donning the clothing of an important drama about the cinematically overlooked American phenomenon of “hazing” and the legal routes taken by colleges to avoid culpability, is really a thinly veiled exploitation revenge flick – albeit one with a fabulous central performance from Siobhan Fallon Hogan.
Hogan, who also writes and produces, is Barbara, a foul-mouthed yet devout Irish Catholic mother of four children. Her eldest son, Jimmy (Jay Jay Warren), is introduced in the opening shot, blindfolded with tape wrapped around his wrists, as one of a procession of college freshmen enduring a humiliating ordeal at the ends of their frat house president, Steven (Jake Weary), in an initiation that more closely resembles a satanic death cult than a declaration of “friendship, loyalty, and virtue”.
Once initiated, members of the fraternity engage in a debauched party of drugs and heavy drinking. When Steven spikes Jimmy’s drink with Xanax, tragedy ensues as Jimmy is plunged into a fatal coma. Barbara, stricken with grief and losing purpose, makes it her mission to build solidarity between mothers who have experienced similar injustice in the hope of changing the legislation that enables colleges to avoid liability in such cases. After facing severe resistance, Barbara opts for a more direct method of justice.
In Barbara’s rugged resourcefulness and perceived gracelessness around people and places of grandeur, there is more than a touch of Julia Roberts’s Erin Brokovich, and Hogan’s performance is just as rough yet charming. That, however, marks the beginning and end of comparisons of quality with Steven Soderbergh’s sure-footed drama. Here, the script’s wild left turn into exploitation doesn’t quite land as intended and is not as shocking or outrageous as it ought to be, abruptly abandoning its legally dramatic thread in a move that is representative of its broader tonal inconsistencies. Still, Hogan soars above this confused yet serviceable revenge narrative.
A Mother’s Fury is released digitally on demand on 20th June 2022.
Watch the trailer for A Mother’s Fury here: