“My life is extremely reality-based,” says Eliza. But it’s a far cry from any reality most women would recognise.
This comedy film purports to show the trials of motherhood. Set over a single day, Eliza (Uma Thurman) attempts to understand what motherhood means to her for a magazine article she is writing – “finding herself” in the process. Nearly 40 years old, she lives with her husband (Anthony Edwards) and two children across two rent-controlled apartments in fashionable Greenwich Village, New York. A published fiction writer, she has given up work to care for their kids. She runs a daily blog from her laptop.
Her husband has a job with flexible hours and comes home for lunch to wave at their daughter out of their apartment window, overlooking her school.
Yes, the apartment is at the top of a three-storey building with no elevator; yes, she has given up her career; yes, her husband is selfish and doesn’t do enough chores; yes, she feels alienated from her family and the world around her, reduced to surviving day to day. Welcome to the world of most mothers!
But most mothers have no choice but to work – in low paid jobs, in difficult conditions, living in less space, with less money for survival and often only seeing their kids for snatched moments.
When Eliza proposes going to work – writing a monthly column in a mums’ magazine – her daughter’s response is to say she can’t, because dads work and mums do everything else. Eliza doesn’t challenge this archaic notion of a woman’s role in society or point out the reality that most women work.
Although at one point it looks like everything is going to implode and she is going to walk away, she doesn’t.
The film, which comes out just before International Women’s Day, ultimately serves to reinforce gender divisions and the sanctity of the family.
Eliza’s husband, who has an annoying habit of collecting books and stacking them all over the house, finds a rare edition and sells it for £24,000 – a book from the very crate load Eliza begs him not to bring home.
He tells her it’s OK – he has given up a book he really wants so that they can have money to pay for their son’s preschool and a dishwasher, so she can have more time to write.
Perhaps the writers and producers of this film missed the latest reports showing that half of all marriages in the US and Britain end in divorce.
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