In Niclas Larsson’s debut feature, Mother, Couch, an all-star ensemble led by Ewan McGregor grapples with a surreal family drama that unfortunately misses the mark. Adapted from Jerker Virdborg’s absurdist novel Mamma I Soffa, the film serves up an array of narrative fragments and striking visuals without delivering a compelling, cohesive story.
The plot centers on David (McGregor), a harried husband and father trying to coax his stubborn mother (Ellen Burstyn) off a green couch in a closing-down furniture store. Alongside McGregor and Burstyn, Rhys Ifans, Lara Flynn Boyle, Taylor Russell, and F. Murray Abraham round out the cast, yet their collective talent can’t elevate the film’s lackluster execution.
The cinematography by Chayse Irvin is noteworthy for its artistry, especially a stunning shot of McGregor illuminated by neon light after a rainstorm. However, the visual aesthetics can’t compensate for the film’s erratic narrative and undeveloped emotional impact.
David’s relationship with his siblings, played by Ifans and Boyle, offers momentary humor but eventually devolves into mere window dressing for a film that fails to knit its disparate elements into a satisfying whole. While there are glimmers of emotional depth and authentic human drama, particularly in David’s struggle to balance family responsibilities, these moments feel like they belong in a different film altogether.
The character of Bella, the store’s manager played by Russell, stands out for her nuanced performance, providing the film’s only solid bridge between reality and surrealism. Yet even her efforts can’t resolve the confusion, leaving the audience with more questions than answers.
Despite the promising setup and a complex score by Christopher Bear that teases various emotional tones, Mother, Couch ultimately fizzles out, ending on a lackluster note that underscores the film’s unfulfilled potential. In the end, Larsson’s attempt at a nonlinear, complex family saga is commendable but ultimately unsatisfying.