Review: ‘American Venus’

A committed perf by Rebecca De Mornay as a woman who won't let go of her daughter's figure skating career -- even after the daughter has -- isn't enough to ballast semi-serious, semi-satiric "American Venus."

A committed perf by Rebecca De Mornay as a woman who won’t let go of her daughter’s figure skating career — even after the daughter has — isn’t enough to ballast semi-serious, semi-satiric “American Venus.” Canadian production follows numerous U.S. portraits of similar monster-stage-motherdom, many telepic showcases for other worthy actresses (notably Holly Hunter’s “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom”), reprising their themes sans much definition or point. Forgettable, routinely mounted treatment of a superficially colorful premise marks this for broadcast sales.

Spooked by a rival’s stellar turn, Jenna Lane (Jane McGregor) flubs a national-level competition she’d long trained for, infuriating mom Celia (De Mornay). Jenna then announces she’s finished with skating, and flees Spokane to attempt a normal collegiate lifestyle in Vancouver, leaving no forwarding address. Yet ma can’t be shaken so easily. Writer-helmer Bruce Sweeney can’t decide if the lead figure is a comic caricature or pathetic mental case; his resolution is so desultory it feels like he ceased caring.

American Venus

Canada

Production

A TVA Films presentation of Brightlight Pictures production in association with Telefilm Canada, CHUM Television, The Movie Network and Movie Central. Produced by Stephen Hegyes. Executive producer, Shawn Williamson. Co-producers, Brad Van Arragon, Jonathan Shore. Directed, written by Bruce Sweeney.

Crew

Camera (color), David Pelletier; editor, Julian Clarke; music, James Jandrisch; production designer, Tony Devenyi. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 7, 2007. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Rebecca De Mornay, Jane McGregor, Matt Craven, Nicholas Lea, Ryan McDonald, Anna Amoroso, Agam Darshi, Benjamin Ratner, Colleen Rennison.

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