Movie Review: The Godmother Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé

The Godmother, also known as Mama Weed and La Daronne, is a light crime-dramedy from France, starring Isabelle Huppert as a police interpreter whose compassion drives her head-first into an ever-escalating drug empire.

The GodmotherThe Godmother has a typically French aesthetic – the bedside table of a nursing home bed only holds three exquisite bottles of perfume. It balances its narrative with decent consistency throughout its 100-minute runtime, unfolding slowly in exposition but happily accelerating into its finish.

We’re introduced to Patience Portefeux (Isabelle Huppert) as a reserved, independently fierce, and compassionately observant police interpreter helping with wiretaps and drug-enforcement operations as an Arabic-to-French translator.

Criminals spit in her face, her boss Philippe (Hippolyte Girardot) is mostly useless, and her nursing-home bound mother (the ever-fantastic Liliane Rovère) is tearing away the last shreds of her emotional stability and tolerance.

Showing compassion for her mother’s favourite nurse after she overhears a wiretapped conversation with her son, Patience finds herself intervening in his arrest and stealing a truckload of hash, which quickly leads to a life of evading the police in colourful Parisian headscarves and druglord robes.

The GodmotherWhile the film is undeniably a dramedy with well-executed dry humour, it still touches on the reality of the drug scene in France with some genuine depth. Perhaps not as brutal or nihilistic as the recent crime drama, Les Miserables, but both the film and its lead are more than willing to get their hands a little dirty on the journey to drug superstardom.

This authenticity helps drive the second half of the film, which focuses on Patience and her deeper involvement in the Parisian drug world; threatening dealers, arranging money laundering, and detailing her strategies with the insights gained through her work as an interpreter. These moments round out the dialogue, but also prevent the film from ever falling flat as it nears its close.

The GodmotherIt’s always more Pineapple Express than Scarface, but with an excellent cast led by Huppert’s screen charisma and range, and genuinely warm-but-deadly tone throughout, The Godmother is an enjoyable watch that will draw various reactions.

On the surface, it’s a crime drama with a coating of comedy, but beneath its filled with emotion, empathy, and fierce independence to make choices in life; good and bad, but choices nonetheless, and to not just let our lives become the victim of chance and the choice of others.


Director: Jean-Paul Salomé

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot, Farida Ouchani, Liliane Rovère, Jade Nadja Nguyen, Rachid Guellaz, Mourad Boudaoud, Iris Bry, Rebecca Marder