Genre: Drama
Director: Benoît Delhomme
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Anders Danielsen Lie, Josh Charles, Eamon O’Connell, Baylen D. Bielitz, Caroline Lagerfelt
Runtime: 1 hr 34 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 14 March 2024

Synopsis: Starring Academy Award winners Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway, MOTHERS’ INSTINCT is an unnerving psychological thriller about two best friends and neighbors, Alice and Céline, whose perfect lives in ‘60s suburbia are shattered by a tragic accident involving one of their children. Marking the directorial debut of acclaimed cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (The Theory of Everything, Lady Chatterley’s Lover), we follow Alice and Céline as their familial bonds are gradually undermined by guilt and paranoia and a gripping battle of wills develops, revealing the darker side of maternal love.

Movie Review:

Set in the 60s, Mothers’ Instinct unravels with Celine (Anne Hathaway) meticulously picking a toy car ambulance burrowed amid dense lawn grass and is furtively watched on from behind the drapes by her neighbour, Alice (Jessica Chastain), with a suspenseful yet melancholic score in the background, setting the tone for the rest of the 94 minutes. A series of unfortunate events unfold and snaps everyone out of their white picket fence dream, paving the way for a powerful establishment of plot that gets everyone wondering if it’s just a banal accident or there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Based on the novel “Derrière la haine” (Behind the Hate) by Barbara Abel, the female-centric film by Benoît Delhomme hails as a gripping adaptation of its book and film forerunners with not just a plot that beckons the audience to the edge of their seats but also boasting gut- wrenching scenes, intense dialogues and, of course, a brilliant cast that has delivered their best.

Jessica Chastain who’s widely known for her prime roles in Crimson Peak, Interstellar and Mama is once again sharing some screen space with Anne Hathaway after a decade. Her co- star has inarguably come a long way from effortlessly being a Disney princess (Mia Thermopolis) to a femme fatale, embodying an emotionally-complexed character. The Academy Award winning duo nails it in this remake that can be safely dubbed as a descendant title of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle with their (Inter) stellar screen presence. The physical contrast between the leading ladies certainly gives a leg up in the representation of characters where one is a blonde and the other is a brunette, meekly suggesting a yin-yang dynamic at play. The hair, make-up and costumes offer an exclusive allure to the characters and the retro aesthetic of the set makes the American psychological thriller really easy on the eye. Interestingly enough, the timeline that the plot pivots on is made even more relevant with the JFK presidential campaign being discussed in the background, the fittings and fixtures, right down to the recipes even (think back to the birthday cakes).

The cast and their outstanding performance that completely augments the narrative, makes it a gem of a timeless thriller sans generic jump scares, crescendo background scores or other fictional devices that we’re much familiar with, such as red herring and predictable plot twists. What could have potentially been just another normal film in the French cinema has categorically snaked its way to becoming a magnum opus, even in years to come. One needs to, in fact, sit through this mother-off to experience the highly-charged drama’s intensity firsthand. And amping up the creepy quotient is the soundtrack, “Did You Ever See a Lassie” that leaves hairs standing up on the back of our necks with the catatonic vocals. Be prepared to get gooseflesh intermittently while at it!

If anyone’s feeling slightly bummed that the trailer has given it all away, cast your woes aside! What you see isn’t quite what you get. The makers of the film has decided to pull an uno reverse with a clever twist. Nothing is spoiled unless you’ve already devoured the pages of the book or watched the original book-to-film adaptation in French.

But if you are keen on spoiling it (without actually spoiling it) for yourselves, read on. As much as it’s an age-old adage - misery sure thrives on company and Mother’s Instinct portrays it faultlessly. This wo-mance/girl-mance mystery features gaslighting, guilt-tripping, trauma bonding and other sinister traits of what may even seem to be a healthy friendship. The malefic side of motherhood (or parenthood even) and femininity is best depicted in a couple of scenes that will leave you speechless.

Mothers are credibly mothering in this higher-order award-worthy page-turner that has to be sat through to discover the reticent je ne sais quoi that will leave your spines chilled.

Movie Rating:



(A necessary new evil that makes the cut to be crowned as the mother of all mummy films)

Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas


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