The neighbourhood is decorated for Hallowe’en but for Charlotte Delaney there is no joy to be found in the festivity, her mother having disappeared, the car found abandoned with the doors open, the police refusing to investigate until twenty-four hours have passed and Char reluctant to tell them how oddly she had been behaving the last time she saw her, what her granny would call “one of her down moods.”
Having skipped ahead at school and finding herself surrounded by older girls, they are no comfort, looking only for someone to torment, the Delaney family the outsiders in the community, their history tied with the old ways all too recently and granny still knotting strands of ivy into balls “for protection,” yet when Angela turns up at home Char’s uneasiness does not abate, her behaviour that of a stranger who wears her mother’s face.
A menacing folk horror sprung from the myth of the changeling, usually a baby taken and replaced with a fairy child, You Are Not My Mother is written and directed by Kate Dolan who introduced the UK premiere at FrightFest as part of Glasgow Film Festival and discussed her wish to present Irish folklore in a modern context, the urban environment of Dublin rather than the more traditional rural setting of such tales.
Old before her time, Hazel Doupe is Char, heavy with the burden of a mother whose depression has made her unpredictable and unreliable and a birthmark resembling a burn which has become the focus of the taunts of the bullies at school, a contrast to Carolyn Bracken as Angela, the severity of her bobbed hair accentuating the perfection of her angular features but masking the darkness within.
The returned Angela dancing and wearing bright summer dresses, what would reassure others only adds to Char’s conviction that something intangible is wrong, catching glimpses in mirrors of the creature beneath which is pretending to be her mother but with nobody who would believe her she is a helpless teenager locked in her room, the only witness to the increasingly distressing manifestations.
Family the nightmare which cannot be escaped, You Are Not My Mother is proud of its deep roots even as it crafts the new growth into unexpected but recognisable shapes, old myths expressed in the form of the fear of losing a loved one and the anguish of trying to help someone who does not wish to be helped, Angela heading into deeper water where Char cannot follow, pleading to the damp earth and the sky above for nothing more than to have her mother back.
You Are Not My Mother will be released in cinemas on Friday 8th April and on Digital Download from Monday 18th April
Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 13th March