“Earth Mama”


Rotten Tomatoes (3/5), Metacritic (6/10), Letterboxd (3/5), Imdb.com (6/10), TMDB.com (3/5)

This is one of those films that leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings. It’s definitely a showcase for writer-director Savanah Leaf, whose considerable artistic sensibilities are clearly apparent in her first feature outing. The same can be said for lead actress Tia Nomore, making her screen debut in a genuinely moving performance. Unfortunately, the vehicle in which their talents are being put to use could stand to be better. This story of the bureaucratic turmoil faced by a single mother in recovery who’s pregnant with her third child (and her first two in foster care) sincerely seeks to evoke viewer empathy for the circumstances she’s enduring. At the same time, though, the story also raises many questions about responsibility (or a lack thereof), an admittedly honest depiction of conditions that are often present in these scenarios that, nevertheless, tends to undercut the pursuit of that aforementioned goal, leaving viewers (like yours truly) confused about what to truly feel. Add to that a somewhat thin narrative that feels padded to fill out the runtime, and one has a picture that comes up short of its objective, despite the efforts of a fine ensemble cast and engaging cinematography. This production’s National Board of Review accolades and Independent Spirit Award nominations aside, Leaf and Nomore genuinely deserve better material to show audiences what they’re capable of. Regrettably, however, this isn’t it.