Another Great Mother Role
Susan Sarandon, the star of Viper Club, has played all kinds of mothers – good ones, bad ones, outrageous ones – starting way back in 1978 in the role of a prostitute with a beautiful young daughter (Brooke Shields) in Pretty Baby. As I mention in my book Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick, Sarandon believes that mothers in the movies have always been played like there’s only one kind of mother. “I’m striving to make these roles more than just ‘mothers’ – but also real women,” she explains.
And she’s accomplished this goal in such films as King of the Gypsies, Little Women, Lorenzo’s Oil, Safe Passage, Moonlight Mile, Anywhere But Here, Igby Goes Down, Stepmom, The Meddler, and The Last of Robin Hood.
Sarandon’s impressive Viper Club performance as a dedicated ER nurse whose son is missing ends up being another notch on her way to becoming the “mother of all film moms.” We get to see this Oscar-winning actress (Dead Man Walking) at the top of her game here in one of the most dramatic roles of her career. Because of Sarandon’s believability, we empathize with her character and want desperately to see son Andy (Julian Morris), who is held hostage in Syria, returned safely. We feel her frustration as she tries to deal with government officials who put her off with comments like “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” and “Your son knew the dangers involved.” And we can’t help wondering about the private group she finally gets involved with.
Sarandon in scene after scene,
so fans will think this film is keen.
She plays a mom with kidnapped son.
Can she find help from anyone?
Emotions very hard to bare,
Sarandon shows with depth and care.
Viper Club tells a tale of woe.
So steel your nerves before you go.
Although this is Sarandon’s movie, supporting cast members Edie Falco and Matt Bomer deserve praise for their convincing turns as two friends trying to raise ransom money. Kudos also to Amir Malaklou for his engaging portrayal of a new ER doctor and to Keishee Aduye as a compassionate ER supervisor.
Directed by Maryam Keshavarz, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jonathan Mastro, Viper Club is not easy to watch. There’s no sugar coating or sentimentality, although nostalgic flashbacks of Andy as a child -- and growing up -- tug at the heartstrings. Obviously, this is the type of dramatic story that must be treated quite seriously.
(Released by Roadside Attractions and rated “R” by MPAA.)
For more information about Viper’s Club, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.