Directed by Lukas Moodysson
Mammoth is a European auteur's take on Americans isolated by technology and privilege but also, through the people and commodities flowing between the first and third world, profoundly interconnected (drink!). So numbingly obligatory is his chosen project, though, that Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson mostly ducks his ambitions to fiddle with short-story details and pinprick ironies; and he's too bighearted to force irrevocable mistakes from his characters for the sake of thematic punctuation. Despite its capital-r Relevancy (and lingering whiff of impersonality), Mammoth feels closer to Moodysson's human-scaled Show Me Love and Together than his skull-crushing sex-trafficking victim-film Lilya 4-ever.
ER surgeon Ellen (Michelle Williams) and wunderkind game programmer Leo (Gael Garcia Bernal) reside in a SoHo loft with a fridge bigger than your shower and a live-in Filipina nanny, Gloria (Marife Necesito). Her own kids skirting trashheap poverty on the other side of the globe, Gloria watches Ellen and Leo's authentically adorable and precocious seven-and-a-half-year-old (who sleeps under world-map wallpaper) while Ellen eats and runs and Leo flies, on business to Bangkok and then, suffocated by his high-rise hotel, to a still-pretty-touristy beachfront bungalow.
Moodysson's previous film, Container, "a black-and-white silent movie with sound" featuring a cross-dressing packrat protagonist and schizophrenic narration, yielded epiphanies about consumption and transcendence far more startling than Mammoth's overdetermined banalities—affluent overworked parents lavish their kids with objects as a shortcut for intimacy, did you know, now you do. More carefully rendered, here, are the scenic overlooks Moodysson lingers at between plot checkpoints, like the food art a distracted Ellen fixes instead of lunch.
Opens November 20