Scandals have become a casual element of our culture, sprayed daily across tabloid headlines. So alcoholism or sexual indiscretions appear tame by today's standards; but when the scandal crosses over to taboo, then there's something to talk about.
Failed starlet Barbara Daly (Julianne Moore) married up when she snared Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane), heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. However, the birth of their son Tony (Eddie Redmayne) only intensifies an already volatile relationship. Tony was never afforded a normal childhood, spending most of his adolescence trying to please and care for his mother. This position becomes his only occupation after his father abandons them to take up with a younger woman. But it becomes clear there are certain needs a son should not meet for his mother, lest he lose his mind.
This is a slow-paced drama that gradually builds up to the scandal that justifies this retelling. Beginning shortly after Tony's birth, the narrative leaps forward marking significant moments in his life and laying the groundwork for his twisted relationship with his mother. But the journey is long and the destination does not feel worth the effort. The culmination becomes inevitable and its untailored treatment allows the scene to blend into the 90 minutes that preceded it. Nonetheless, although the presentation is not particularly memorable, the cast is not at fault as their performances are adequately nonchalant.
The DVD extras are minimal, consisting of only two featurettes. The behind the scenes feature is typical, while "The Back Story" reveals little about the real people or the source material and the filmmakers' approach to it.