Isabelle Huppert has a relentless and fearless attitude that is perfect for movie roles with perilous situations. In the French film Mama Weed there is heated conflict, but also lots of laughs and cliches. The film can be engrossing, at least in bits and pieces, and Huppert is the reason why. But Mama Weed can also be redundant, and that requires patience (which also happens to be her name in the film) on the viewer’s part.
Huppert plays Patience Portefeux, a French-Arabic translator in Paris. She finds herself in financial trouble and decides to do translation work for the police in a drug sting operation. Patience becomes the contact for drug dealers, but she knows more than she is telling the police and she parlays this into more income. She can’t keep this discreet operation going for long, though.
Where I found the most fun in Mama Weed is when Huppert dresses in a headdress and sunglasses for her discreet operations. The entertainment value is that she doesn’t get caught up in the dangerous situations, the drug dealers do, and she walks away with a lot of the money. The sting operation scenes in Mama Weed can be funny, and though it seemed predictable, there were also some twists. But I wouldn’t call the film suspenseful or intense. It is more like a comedy spy thriller, with a small amount of drama thrown in. It wasn’t exactly mesmerizing, but it was entertaining, had a few laughs, and is worth a watch.
Some may think Mama Weed is going to be like Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (2016), a film also starring Isabelle Huppert that I saw while an intern at the Cannes Film Festival. Huppert is known for her dark performances, so people may assume that Mama Weed will be dark like Elle, but it is not. In Mama she can be dark and serious at times, but the film is nowhere near as suspenseful, violent, or disturbing as Elle was.
Mama Weed is not memorable, but it’s fun to watch, and it’s Huppert’s acting and humor, not the plot or suspense, that are the reason. I believe it’s one of those films that will grow on some cinema enthusiasts (including myself) over time, maybe with a few more viewings. I give Mama Weed two and a half stars.