If your relationship with your mother is anything like the narrative painted in Rosanna Arquette’s new film, you might be a little too involved in each other’s lives.
New York City-set “Born Guilty,” in theaters just in time for Mother’s Day, opens with Arquette’s single mom character Judith butting into the relationship of two strangers making out at the gate of her apartment. That’s only the beginning of a 90-minute indie film about a mother whose close-knit connection to her son leads to an “Indecent Proposal”-style set up.
Tired of her overbearing antics — like calling him in a panic just to check in at 4 a.m. — Judith’s adult son Marty (Jay Devore) pays an old college friend to keep his mom romantically occupied.
“I think she got stuck. She was a single mother it was really hard. Losing her son, who moves away to another coast to Los Angeles, is just too much for Judith,” Arquette, 58, says. “It’s a lot when you’ve put your whole life into a child and you have to let go.”
The actress and mother of 23-year-old Zoe Sidel, explains that she found the tale of a worried mom who just can’t seem to let go to be relatable — to a degree.
“Sometimes, (Zoe) thinks I’m smothering and overwhelming and I was like ‘WHAT! I’m not that,’” Arquette cries out through laughter.
“But there’s so much fear, especially now more than ever, you worry about your girls out there in this world. I didn’t realize that sometimes I can actually be an overbearing mother,” she admits.
But her natural overbearing tendencies don’t come close to Judith’s. Though Zoe hasn’t yet seen the film, a night of “Born Guilty” viewing would leave anyone to feel a new appreciation for their own mother.
Nodding to the tale told in several flicks before it, (“She’s All That,” “10 Things I Hate About You”), the Max Heller-directed film sees Marty offer his pal Rawl (David Coussins) $10,000 to journey from California to New York City to shack up with an agoraphobic while plotting ways to bump into, and fall in love with, his frazzled mother. It’s not exactly a spoiler to note that trouble naturally ensues.
“It was a great character to play,” the actress says, noting that the role of the middle-aged mom was something new for her career which began 41 years ago with the TV film “Having Babies II.” “In trying to transform from being lonely and alone, insecure and angry, she heals through a moment of love.”
Though the script itself intrigued the “Pulp Fiction” actress, Arquette says she reveled in the chance to return to her New York City roots to shoot the film.
“I love New York. It’s in my blood,” she says. “Even though I’m now living in L.A., I was born here and these are my people.”
One scene in particular — featuring Rawl sweeping Judith off her feet by way of a Skyline Sightseeing bus and some Christmas lights — let the actress see her home city through new eyes.
“It was 18 degrees (while shooting). It was so cold,” she recalls. “We were at the top of that bus going around and around in circles (for hours), but I had never done that before! It was great to see the city from that perspective. I had never seen it like that. It was beautiful.”
“Born Guilty” made the rounds at the festival circuit last summer, and while Arquette admittedly avoids watching the films she shoots, she did catch wind of “Born Guilty” at the Sarasota Film Festival.
It will be released in select theaters, including the 42nd Street AMC Empire 25, on May 11.