Reminiscent of the maternal monster that Brenda Blethyn played in the 1998 film Little Voice, Jean occupies center stage in the life of her oldest son, Mark (Wilson), a 22-year-old child who has been disabled from birth. But dominating her other son, Tim (Chittenden), is more of a challenge. At 21, Tim chafes at the apron strings that are strangling him as effectively as the umbilical cord that cut off oxygen to Mark in the womb. Given an American title that echoes Inventing the Abbotts and Meet the Fockers, Introducing the Dwights dramatizes a troubled family whose mater swallows all the oxygen. Jean is a theatrical dynamo who would if she could rewrite Oedipus as Jocasta’s vindication.
Young, nubile, and in love with timorous Tim, Jill (Booth) is a threat to Jean’s monopoly over her younger son’s loyalties. Tim drives a moving van, and, after meeting Jill on an assignment, is moved to relinquish his virginity. Encounters between the two are awkward, anxious, torrid, and tender and offer some of the film’s most affecting moments.
But Jill, a clerk at an automobile-muffler shop, soon realizes that Jean is out to stifle her, and she issues an ultimatum. “You’ve got to make a choice,” she tells Tim. “It’s me, or it’s her.” When a robber commanded, “Your money or your life,” Jack Benny hesitated. Tim, too, is painfully torn between mother and lover.
Introducing the Dwights
Dir. Cherie Nowlan; writ. Keith Thompson; feat. Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Emma Booth, Richard Wilson (R)