As Joan Crawford might well attest, for posterity’s sake it’s wise to treat your children well — they have time on their side, and many confessional media forums at their disposal. An indulgent exercise in post-mortem cross-examination, vet Swedish TV director Lars-Lennart Forsberg’s docu “My Mother Had Fourteen Children” spends 80 minutes in a sulk over the benign neglect suffered as part of an unduly huge brood.
Though handsome and well-crafted, B&W pic offers little revelation beyond the rather unflattering one of a 68-year-old filmmaker still smarting from lack of familial attention. Bracketed by pretentious segs of Forsberg addressing his parents’ grave sites, feature is otherwise wholly assembled from photographs depicting Stockholm’s “biggest family” through the decades. Mother Marta was a pastor’s only child who scandalized her Bible school at age 15 by socializing with a somewhat older male classmate, future tailor Karl-Filip.
Marrying once she reached 18, duo went on to conceive 14 children from 1917 through the late 1930s despite financial hardship, health problems and frustrated personal goals (both parents had artistic/intellectual leanings).
The kids seem to have turned out pretty well (several contrib voiceover commentary here), yet tone is set by helmer’s droning narration, which ponders the why of childbearing excess without finding any answers. It’s unclear whether helmer’s sibs feel the same lingering resentment; in any case, he certainly does enough whining for all of them.
Apparently vast store of photographic mementos (one brother was a serious shutterbug) is well-edited into a chronological saga. Auteur also contribs a spare, repetitious, suitably pathos-tinged piano score.