“The M Word”
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity and sexual references
Running time: 111 minutes
Distributor: Rainbow Releasing
Menopause apparently affects women differently, even if they happen to share the same genes, as is the case with Carson (Frances Fisher), Rita (Mary Crosby) and Louise (Eliza Roberts). Each of these sisters is struggling to maintain her dignity while dealing with the fallout from the so-called “Change of Life.”
Frustrated Carson describes feeling for months on end “like I don’t have any control.” By contrast, Rita’s body chemistry is so confused by the assortment of medicines and creams she uses that she wants to murder her husband, one minute, and to make love to him, the next. Meanwhile, relatively-macabre Lulu relies on humor to cope with her constant obsession with death.
At an informal gathering with her siblings, Carson announces that she just impulsively left her husband (Gregory Harrison) and moved in with her daughter (Tanna Frederick). But that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be able to avoid Mack entirely, since he’s a sportscaster at the same local television station where Moxie plays a dog on a wacky kiddie series.
The plot thickens when network executive Charlie Moon (Michael Imperioli) arrives in town from New York with plans to implement programming changes to reverse the station’s plummeting ratings. However, he is distracted at first sight by foxy Moxie who is not above using her powers of seduction to save her own neck, if not her struggling show. Further complicating matters is the fact that she not only recently missed her period, but is stuck in an unsatisfying relationship with her producer (Corey Feldman).
That is the incestuously-intriguing point of departure of “The M Word,” a sophisticated ensemble dramedy written and directed by the legendary Henry Jaglom (Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?). The picture’s soap opera-style premise basically serves as a launching pad for frank discussions about the biologically-determined plight of women of a certain age.
As humorous as it is sobering, Jaglom proves as masterful as ever at creating fascinating characters designed to make you both laugh and reflect. His raw tale of female empowerment revolves around uncompromisingly-realistic discussions of menopause ranging from night sweats to mood swings to depression to atrophied vaginas to cramps to forgetfulness to a loss of skin elasticity.
After venting their angst interminably, our heroines eventually get around to resolving their crises in entertaining fashion before the curtain comes down on a decidedly upbeat note (“There is nothing like being a girl!”), thus allowing the audience to exit the theater with a big smile on its collective face.
Such a satisfying cinematic treat that “The M Word” might very well be “marvelous!”