A young girl interning at her mother’s insurance corporate insurance company discovers all is not right in Mum’s Wrong (Maman a Tort), a subtle-yet-complex drama from writer-director Marc Fitoussi.
Anouk (Jeanne Jestin) is less than pleased when her school-required internship at a TV station falls through and she falls into the corporate world at the insurance company her mother (Émilie Dequenne) works at. It’s especially grating to hear her friend tell her all about the perks of interning for a fashion designer.
But the insurance company… they help people, Anouk rationalizes. When the worst happens, the insurer is there to assist those in need in desperate situations.
Of course, the teenager is more than a little naive in this regard.
Viewers are likely to be a tad less shocked than Anouk is when she discovers that the insurance company is denying perfectly good claims as standard practice. This comes to light when a single mother and immigrant (Sabrina Ouazani) makes a scene at corporate headquarters, and Dequenne’s character promises to have a look into it.
But Mom’s lack of follow-through leads Anouk into a journey of her own, one that uncovers a slew of denied claims based on medical reports from non-existent doctors.
And what’s especially disturbing here is that Mom might be complicit in everything.
Mum’s Wrong is never exactly enthralling – the audience is less surprised by all the underhanded insurance company goings-on than Anouk – but it’s interesting all the way through: this is an all-too-frequent real-world problem that deserves an exposé.
Still, the cynical ending left a bad taste in my mouth. It might be more realistic than John Grisham’s The Rainmaker (which Francis Ford Coppola brought to the big screen in 1997, and covered similar thematic ground) but these corporations thrive because of do-nothing characters like the ones presented here.
That’s the difference between Hollywood and French films for you.
Co-star Dequenne seemed destined for stardom after a breakout performance in the Dardenne brother’s Rosette in 1999 (both the actress and the film picked up top awards at Cannes that year).
Less than two decades later, however, and she’s playing a stereotypical single mother and second-fiddle to a teenage daughter. Still, Dequenne is highly appealing here: I’d have much rather seen her character and story in the leading role.
Note: while the film shares a French title (Maman a tort) with a classic Mylène Farmer tune, the song does not make an appearance.