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Review: ‘Mad Women’ tests credulity, patience and good taste

“Why don’t you just make a speech about it? That’s the only way you know how to communicate with people anymore,” Nevada (Kelsey Lynn Stokes) shouts at her mother, Harper (Christina Starbuck), during a lovers’ quarrel. Yes, a lovers’ quarrel.

The ironic thing about Nevada’s statement is that “Mad Women,” written and directed by Jeff Lipsky, communicates almost entirely through long, anecdotal speeches heavy with self-importance, light on actual import. Nevada’s family is dysfunctional on another level: Her father is imprisoned for statutory rape, and her mother is running for mayor after a jail stint for conspiracy to commit the murder of an abortion clinic terrorist. These characters are not only delusional and far from believable, but they are entirely two-dimensional, with no fully realized characteristics. .

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“Mad Women” is punishingly dull and apparently aimless, without any real conflict driving the story, just confounding and ridiculous interactions among the characters. The incestuous event, as well as other confessions of sexual abuse and impropriety are bizarrely defended by the family and those who orbit it, and it seems as though the film wants to rationalize it in some way. It doesn’t help that the actors saddled with the ponderous, baffling script are devoid of charisma and interpersonal chemistry. It’s enough to drive you mad.

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MPAA rating: None,

Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Playing: Sundance Sunset Cinema


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