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  Blush Desperate Housewife
Year: 2019
Director: Debra Eisenstadt
Stars: Wendi McClendon-Covey, Christine Woods, Steve Little, Max Burkholder, Graham Sibley, Kate Alberts, Catherine Curtin, Amy Anderson, Jocelyn Ayanna, Kate Blumberg, Lucinda Clare, Ted Elrick, Sameer Khan, Anna Lamadrid, Meredith Michal, Tu Morrow
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cathy (Wendi McClendon-Covey) is a middle-aged, suburban mother who has been filling up her days since motherhood with concerns around the family: helping out at the school, for instance, and fulfilling housewife duties for her husband Matthew (Steve Little) and young teen daughter Tara (Kate Alberts). However, they do not really appreciate her efforts and she is starting to feel taken for granted - a midlife crisis is brewing just as surely as her menopause, so when she has an offer to housesit for her sister Gail (Catherine Curtin), she takes it, as her sibling needs someone to look after her pet cat. What she didn't anticipate were Gail's neighbours, who she notices hanging around outside... she would be best to stay away.

Writer and director Debra Eisenstadt had been working behind the camera for some time when she made this drama, though she may be best known to film fans as the co-star of the David Mamet filmed play Oleanna. She sought to channel some of those awkward social matters in her directorial pieces, and this was at least more believable than anything Mamet had dreamt up for her, a succession of brief vignettes that escalated into its protagonist finding her life something of a struggle as her daughter grows up and her husband pays less and less attention to her, leaving her in a state of emotional neglect that doing favours for those she meets turns out to be a poor substitute for a meaningful set of relationships - and has she neglected her mother in turn?

It was the neighbours who acted as a catalyst for a situation that the director refused to present a series of easy solutions to, indeed you could legitimately argue that Cathy was no more free of her issues at the end than she was at the beginning. With McClendon-Covey best known as a comedy performer, you might be expecting some big cringe comedy laughs to stem from her character's behaviour, but it doesn't manifest that way, and while there was some grim amusement in Cathy getting into these embarrassing set-ups, it was not so much a film that was aiming for the funny bone. If anything, it was seeking to have the audience cringe without the release of comedy, as there was real pain in the bonds the characters forged between themselves (or not).

It was very well-acted, you could not deny that, but an hour and forty-five minutes of watching Cathy dig herself into a hole with more or less everyone around her handing her the spade was not going to be many viewers' idea of fun, and fun was not on the menu. Time and again, she is trapped in circumstances where she is with someone acting weird or inappropriately or just plain selfishly, and she has to act as if she is the one who has something wrong with her when she previously did not believe that to be the case. This happens so often that eventually, there genuinely is something wrong with her and she goes from, for instance, anti-smoking campaigner to secret smoker, or having an fling with the husband of Gail's neighbour (Christine Woods) who has been a corrupting influence thanks to her lack of boundaries. If Cathy is stalled in this environment, increasingly entrenched in her modern malaise, that appeared to be the point - to have the audience discomfited. If that's your idea of entertainment, you will get more out of this than most. Music by Mel Elias.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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