Sunday, March 27

Special Events ArchiveBoston Underground Film Festival 2016


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Director Bobby Putka in Person!

2016 | USA | 84 minutes
Directors: Robert G. Putka
Screenwriters: Robert G. Putka
Cast: Jennifer Lafleur, Eilis Cahill, Maryann Plunkett

During the Cold War, “MAD” stood for the strategic nuclear policy “Mutually Assured Destruction;” in Robert Putka’s first feature, the term is deftly applied to a nuclear family, where barbs and snipes pepper an endless, fractious fracas between two sisters and their mother.

When Connie receives a phone call from the hospital about her recently divorced mother’s nervous breakdown, she and younger sister Casey decide they don’t want to deal with it by railroading emotionally raw Mel to voluntarily check into a psych ward.

Connie, a type-A matriarch and working mother, believes herself to be the only one in the family with her shit in order; aimless, apathetic Casey has only recently graduated into the world of adulthood and looks for ways to get by and find connection, mostly via webcam. While Mel contends with group therapy and communes with fellow patients even more unstable than she, Connie’s life begins to unravel as a white lie is supplanted by white collar crime.

Writer-director Robert G. Putka draws from his own volatile relationship with his mother, as well as the sense of purposelessness one feels when you’re not moving forward with your life. And as Mel’s psych ward friendship with Jerry (standout Mark Reeb) reminds us—maybe we’re all just fuckups desperately trying to keep it together.

Family dysfunction is a slow-growing tumor that festers with every passive aggressive attack on one’s life choices, or thinly-veiled barb referencing a long-past transgression. There’s never just one thing. Don’t expect specifics as to exactly how the relationship between these three women became so fractured. None of it matters. More than anything, MAD is an often abrasive, sad, and laugh-out-loud allegory of how ruminative self-hatred can paralyze completely, and transform us into unrelenting assholes to those who love us most.

– Melinda Green