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Netflix Instant Pick Round-Up: Mommy Issues Edition

By Shelby

When it comes to Netflix viewing habits, I fall more into the camp of TV binge-watcher instead of movie viewer. Part of the problem is that it’s much easier to talk yourself into sitting down to watch something for 20 or 40 minutes instead of committing to a movie’s entire runtime. The other part of the problem is that Netflix hasn’t done a first-rate job in updating its recent releases over the past few years. But recently I watched three disparate, relatively recent releases that ended up having the common thread and theme of mommy issues.

Leading the pack of picks is last year’s What Maisie Knew, a modern-day update of the Henry James novel of the same name. Through low camera angles and lyrical takes, the story unfolds through the eyes of 6-year-old Maisie, the daughter of the separated, selfish and deeply self-invovled parents played by Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan. Moore is particularly infuriating as a narcissistic rock star who never fails to put her own needs ahead of her daughter’s. The bright spots in Maisie’s perpetually shuttled and shuffled life are her nanny (Joanna Vanderham) and a bartender played by Alexander Skarsgard, who has never been more adorable, attractive or endearing than he is in this role. The result is a compelling drama that will make you consider what it really means to be a parent.

“Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you, Julia.” John Lennon sang a song of love to his birth mother in The Beatles’ classic “Julia,” and 2009’s Nowhere Boy tells the story behind that song. As teenage Lennon (Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a performance infused with equal parts ego and pain) reunites with his mother (Anne-Marie Duff), he also falls in love with music. Along the way, he does battle with the aunt (who is vividly realized by the great Kristin Scott Thomas) who raised him and meets another Liverpudlian lad named Paul McCartney (Love Actually‘s Thomas Brodie-Sangster). Even though we all know how young John’s story ends, this coming-of-age story packs a powerful punch.

The indie dramedy Stuck in Love (2012) follows a year of ups and downs in the life of a fractured family headed up by a famous writer patriarch played by Greg Kinnear. He and his two children (Lily Collins [she of the enviable eyebrows] and Nat Wolff) haven’t gotten over the desertion of their wife and mother, respectively, played by Jennifer Connelly and the effects fracture across everyone’s lives. The ensemble cast in this sweet story is rounded out by Veronica Mars herself (Kristen Bell) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘s Logan Lerman.

Have you discovered any recent releases on Netflix that you’d recommend?

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