Updated: May 26
Godmother (Mama Weed and/or La Darrone)
Director: Jean-Paul Salomé
Based on the novel by Hannelore Cayre
For a movie that has so many names it seems odd to have to note that this movie is about a stash of hashish and not weed. Heavens, where did the editors of the film misspend their youths? Apart from this one little quibble, it is an engaging movie starring the fabulous Isabelle Huppert.
Patience Portefeux (Huppert) is an over-worked, under-paid translator for the police. She finds herself in a financial predicament when the Old People’s home where her beloved mama (Liliane Rovère) lives, threatens to evict her mother due to unpaid bills and Patience’s inability to secure (pay for) additional assistance to manage her mother’s deterioration.
Patience is also behind in her own rent and though she has just completed paying off the debts left to her by her late husband she finds herself going through an existential crisis.
So … Patience does what any enterprising women would do. She takes on a little side hustle. In fact, it almost falls into her lap for as she is tapping the phones of the participants in a drug haul from Morocco (the hashish) she discovers that the truck driver is the son of the immigrant angel-carer (Farida Ouchani) who is taking such good care of her mama in the Old People’s home. She thinks of this underpaid, overworked and compassionate migrant mother and the heartbreak she will experience when her son is busted for his participation. At this point Patience goes rogue … and ends up with millions of dollars of hashish, a multitude of drug connections because of her surveillance and translation work, and insight into the local Narcs squad because she works with them and just happens to be bonking their chief (who, to be honest, I felt sorry for when ....).
I won’t give away the fun of this movie or its depth but needless to say, it does highlight the fact that those on the wrong side of the economic fence – particularly migrants and women – are frequently pushed into grey areas of employment to survive, while the law tends to protect those who enjoy the luxury of secure jobs and prospects.
‘Mama Weed’ creates a host of fabulous older, character-filled women who are trying to keep their families afloat. I particularly liked Colette (Jade-Nadja Nguyen), Patience’s Chinese building manager who discusses with Patience a final career move in the movie as ‘people get killed in China for drug dealing’. As Connie and Patience note, Patience already has enough money for herself and family and also for her mother’s carer to employ a good lawyer for her son, and Connie herself has prospered nicely with the cut she’s been keeping for laundering Patience’s drug money. Patience’s new job? Selling car parts to the Saudis, a lucrative little side-hustle of what is implied to be quite a few managed by Connie, and one significantly less dangerous than being a drug kingpin (or queenpin, with regards to Patience).
You could do a lot worse than 'Mama Weed' for a few hours of escapism.
Disclaimer: Unsure if this is necessary statement but of course if the haul had been ice or heroin it would have been a completely different movie.