Monday, 10 September 2012


This 2009 film passed me by until I began searching for movies for a film-based course on Southeast Asia. While the course is centred on cinema by Thai, Malaysian and Filipino directors, I also wanted some "outsider" perspectives and Mammoth seemed perfect - a Swedish writer/director (Lukas Moodysson) looks at the interaction between American, Thai and Filipino cultures in our contemporary globalised world. 

And it did not disappoint. This is a powerful, well-acted story of our times. The central theme is the future of our species (and here the mammoth symbolism comes to the fore) given our increasing disability to provide real human connection, especially for our children. Instead of direct family connection we see the alienating results of people desperately trying to connect with their cell phones or else they ended up with substitute connections (nannies, prostitutes, doctors) replacing the touch that families - in spite of their best intentions - are unable to provide. The cultural interaction, while highlighting the very real disparities, also shows that the threat of human disconnection is common across cultures.

Compared frequently to Babel or Crash, many critics accused the movie of heavy-handed guilt manipulating, but this seems a false charge to me. One has to wonder if these critics are protesting too much with their cell phones in hand and their children cared for by others. The depictions are all fair and realistic, and while one incident in particular may have poured it on a little thick, it was certainly plausible. The warning is indeed urgent, but it seems well-presented and realistic. It's not hard to sympathize with all of the main characters who clearly love their children and are trying to be good people. I give it a strong ***1/2 and recommend it to those looking for discussion starters on where society is heading.

1 comment:

  1. Without actually reading your review (I skimmed it quickly because I saw hints that this looked very intriguing), I want to thank you for alerting me to a film I have never heard about but looks like my kind of film.