Kathleen Turner and Rebecca De Mornay: From Here to Maternity
They were two of the ’80s hottest sex symbols, breaking out in Body Heat and Risky Business. But movie stardom is a truly risky business, and now Kathleen Turner and Rebecca De Mornay find themselves fiftysomethings, and big-screen leading roles are few and far between. Still, this Mother’s Day weekend, they’re back with a vengeance as very different Moms from Hell in new movies debuting simultaneously in theaters and on VOD: Mother’s Day and The Perfect Family.
Like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who went from femme fatales (The Letter, Mildred Pierce) to mére fatales (The Wicked Stepmother, Strait-Jacket), Turner and De Mornay have been making this transition for years in films like Serial Mom and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. And while the tones of their new films vary wildly—Mother’s Day is a gory horror flick and The Perfect Family is a calm domestic dramedy—their characters have shocking similarities. They’re both powerfully intimidating matriarchs who are determined to maintain an idyllic facade despite the rampant dysfunction among their offspring.
Turner’s Eileen Cleary has a pregnant lesbian daughter (a well-cast Emily Deschanel), a soon-to-divorce son (Parenthood‘s appealing Jason Ritter)—and a skeleton of her own in the closet. She’s been nominated as Catholic Woman of the Year, and you can’t help but imagine Turner channeled some of her own frustration with the Oscars to understand her character’s determination to win. She’s been nominated only once, for Peggy Sue Got Married, despite award-worthy turns in Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor and The War of the Roses (and if they’d ever given out Oscars for voiceovers, she should’ve won for Jessica Rabbit). The Perfect Family is a minor film, but Turner’s presence—and performance—are major.
As for Mother’s Day, well, if you can’t say something nice… Sadly, it doesn’t seem like De Mornay or Turner will be finding movie vehicles worthy of their talents anytime soon. As Turner revealed during her uproarious recent Q&A at the Montclair Film Festival, she has no film projects planned and will continue to concentrate on stage work. And De Mornay—who had an uncredited cameo in American Reunion—has only the unpromising Apartment 1303 3D and Escort Service coming up. Of course, she started out as an escort in Risky Business, but what a difference 30 years makes. To quote the movie, “Sometimes you’ve gotta say, ‘What the fuck?’”
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