Cotton Mary

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -1

Set in colonial India of the 1950s, COTTON MARY tells the story of an Anglo-Indian woman, Mary (Madhur Jaffrey), and her complicated relationships with her sister, her niece, and the British family she works for. After Theresa MacIntosh (Greta Scacchi), a British woman, gives birth to her second child, she soon realizes that her body is not producing milk, thus putting the babys health in jeopardy. Mary, a nurse in the hospital, offers to take care of the problem, and takes the child to her sister, Blossom (Neena Gupta), a local wet nurse. Marys actions lead to a job as the MacIntosh familys nanny, and once she becomes part of the household, her aspirations go far beyond that of a simple nanny. She deeply desires the British lifestyle, and is motivated to act in sometimes devious ways to attain a more respectable position in the household. Marys niece, Rosie (Sakina Jaffrey), also makes it into the household, but through her own, less honorable ways. Wrapped in the mixed English/Indian culture, the story contains customs and beliefs that arent always explained and make the story hard to follow. While COTTON MARY has the makings of an interesting story, it never really grabs the audiences emotions.

As a bridge between two cultures by birth, Marys character is quite complex and difficult to pin down into one category. But she embodies the desire of lower socio-economic class members to improve their status. This is evident in her striving to be British, or at least live like them, and to do that, she goes to any length necessary. This involves a great deal of manipulation and lying, so much so that it is never really obvious if Mary is ever genuine or honest. The film clearly portrays this behavior in a negative light as Marys actions continually cause more pain and trouble rather than produce anything positive. Objectionable language is light, as expected in a British period film, with only three regular profanities and one mild crudity. Some natural female breast nudity occurs as women breastfeed infants. Female breast nudity also occurs as a couple engages in pre-sexual activity but is interrupted. While these scenes seem to have some artistic merit, they are gratuitous exposures, particularly when the visual spectacle lingers on the screen. Altough it shows the ills of lying and cheating to get ahead, gratuitous nudity makes COTTON MARY a morally poor pick.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Artistic License Films (Merchant Ivory Production), 250 West 57th St., Suite 606, NY, NY 10107

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Once Mild

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Few (4) times Regular 3 (J 2, C sake 1), exclamatory 1 (Oh My God)

Violence: None

Sex: Once - Implied (couple embraces and walks into building together)

Nudity: Few times (female breast during breast feeding, female breast in bedroom); Near Nudity Few Times (cleavage)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once (man and woman in pre-sexual activity but interrupted)

Drugs: Few times (smoking, alcohol)

Other: Devotion to God encouraged; woman manipulates people to get what she wants

Running Time: 125 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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