Directed by Christophe Honoré, starring Isabelle Huppert, Louis Garrel, Emma de Caunes, Joana Preiss, Jean-Baptiste Montagut and Philippe Duclos.

Teenager Pierre (Garrel) has been brought up by his grandmother. His mother Hélène (Huppert) and father (Duclos) 'live' out a flatline marriage and spend time in the Canary Islands, where each does what they want. In Hélène's case it's sex - and anything else - with strangers, clubbing and plenty of drink.

Pierre has barely arrived for his sojourn in the sun when his father - on business in France - dies, leaving him and his mother to try and figure each other out. He's attracted to her, while she is determined that he should see her true nature: an emotionally stunted woman who is determined to push boundaries and break taboos in her fruitless quest for pleasure.

The press notes proclaim that 'Ma Mère' is "the film that split opinion at Cannes" - but that's hardly a unique achievement and after watching you'll wonder just what was the ratio for and against. Yet another film convinced that putting it up to an audience means it has something important to say, this grim attempt at intellectual shape-throwing is far too concerned about breaking taboos to worry about such trivial matters as empathy and the bond between the audience and those onscreen. Whether the characters hurt themselves, brutalise and degrade each other or come to believe that complete personal freedom can only be found through crazy golf (they don't, by the way) you won't care about any of them.

Huppert again brings her glacial coolness to the screen but it's galling to see her talent wasted in such a badly-scripted and pretentious film. Again, the press notes describe it as "her raunchiest and most thought-provoking yet" - the former suggests where the priorities lie and the response to the latter is merely "why?". If you do sit through it because you're a Huppert fan, be prepared to be bored, uncomfortable and depressed.

As for entertainment, the prospect is as remote as Hélène's emotions.

Harry Guerin