Love Ya Like Poison

By Max Azulay | Drama
A 20-something woman returns home to her firecracker of a Jewish mother.

Louise is a 20-something woman returning home to New York City after a stint abroad in London. She reunites with her mother Nadine, who is loving but very opinionated about everything -- including Louise.

Throughout Louise's stay, the mother-daughter pair cook, hang out and talk, bonding like they used to. But it doesn't take long for the rifts between them to come to the surface, as they re-adjust to the changing dynamics of their relationship.

Directed by Max Azulay and written by Rosie Yadid (who also plays daughter Louise), this short family dramedy is a warm but sharp portrait of a mother-daughter pair. The look and feel of the film are guided by a low-key naturalism suited to the almost forensic attention paid to the push-and-pull between Louise and her mom.

The writing is excellent, and one of the guiding strengths of the film. It has a keen ear for the churn of aggression and dominance between mother and daughter. Sometimes it's masked behind passive-aggressive judgments, and sometimes it bubbles up as outright furor. But it's also alive to the bond between the pair, made palpable through a gently perceptive eye in the camera and editing for nuance, gesture and detail.

The tension between fearful judgment and love unfurls most deeply when Louise reveals she may marry her non-Jewish boyfriend in London. Her mother has opinions about Louise's decisions, and she shares them with sarcasm and snark, which trigger Louise's rebelliousness. Actors Rosie Yadid and Kate Neuman bring daughter and mother to life with unvarnished honesty, playing their mutual enjoyment of one another with a touching relatability. But they also get at how the pair mutually needle one another with judgment and rejection, capturing a co-dependency.

"Love Ya Like Poison" never gets melodramatic, however, and there is no loud cathartic explosion of emotion at the end. Tension still simmers, and viewers get the sense that the pair are accustomed to the dysfunction as much as the affection. But they also share their experiences and thoughts, striking a balance and perhaps indicating a change in the dynamic between parent and child. Nadine learns that Louise must make her own mistakes, even if they may repeat the ones Nadine herself made in the past. Louise will make whatever decisions in the future, but she knows her mother will be there. She may have a lot to say about it, but she will be there when it counts, no matter what.

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