Madonnas

Sole reason for catching "Madonnas," a single-mom drama that quickly runs out of steam, is the lead performance by Sandra Hueller, a gawky but hypnotic talent revealed in last year's psychochiller, "Requiem." At more than two hours, this sophomore outing plays like an assembly print.

With:
With: Sandra Hueller, Olivier Gourmet, Susanne Lothar, Luisa Sappelt, Gerti Drassel, Coleman Orlando Swinton, Martin Goossens.

Sole reason for catching “Madonnas,” a single-mom drama that quickly runs out of steam, is the lead performance by Sandra Hueller, a gawky but hypnotic talent revealed in last year’s psychochiller, “Requiem.” With a half- hour taken out, the pic could gain more focus and dramatic momentum; at more than two hours, this sophomore outing by writer-director Maria Speth (“The Days Between”) plays like an assembly print.

Hueller is Rita, first seen in Belgium carrying a baby and tracking down her natural father, Jerome (Olivier Gourmet, in a nod to pic’s co-producers, the Dardenne Bros.). Off-center comic tone during her stay with his family — Jerome’s spacey son asks if he can suck her engorged breasts — is ditched as Rita is deported back to Germany and jailed for theft. Rita’s other four kids are looked after by her mother, Isabella (Susanne Lothar). When Rita is released, she tries to develop a family life with a black U.S. soldier, Marc (Coleman Orlando Swinton) but her old trashy ways resurface. Though hardly believable as the mother of five kids, Hueller certainly convinces as an emotional island reachable only at high tide.

Madonnas

Germany-Switzerland- Belgium

Production: A Pandora Film presentation of a Pandora Film (Germany)/Cineworx (Switzerland)/Les Films du Fleuve (Belgium) production, in association with ZDF (Das kleine Fernsehspiel), Schweizer Fernsehen. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Christoph Friedel. Executive producer, Claudia Steffen. Co-producers, Pascal Traechslin, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Olivier Bronckart. Directed, written by Maria Speth.

Crew: Camera (color), Reinhold Vorschneider; editors, Dietmar Kraus, Ludo Troch, Doerte Volx-Mammarella, Speth; art directors, Tim Pannen, Igor Gabriel, Marion Foradori; costume designer, Birgit Kilian. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 9, 2007. Original German title: Madonnen. German, French, English dialogue. Running time: 125 MIN.

With: With: Sandra Hueller, Olivier Gourmet, Susanne Lothar, Luisa Sappelt, Gerti Drassel, Coleman Orlando Swinton, Martin Goossens.

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