TROUT FUN #4: Tijana Perovic on ‘Hi, Mom!’ (1970, dir. Brian De Palma)

In this edition of TROUT FUN, Tijana Perovic takes us on a brief journey through the wild world of De Palma’s take on a style akin to the French New Wave. A semi-sequel to Greetings (1968), it reunites De Palma and De Niro as they light a fire under all of New York, investigating class, race, sexual and cinematic relations.

Hi, Mom! takes us on a hand-held lucid trip through post-war urban utopia and before we know it, all our sympathies have left the party right with the anxieties of Jon Rubin (Robert De Niro).

To anyone who has ever dabbled in apathy, De Palma’s vision of New York in the‘70s will offer a whimsical bear hug. If you’ve lived in a discordant state of oppression and desire, you will find yourself coming up with excuses for Jon’s unapologetically destructive nature. The dark humor interwoven throughout eases the tensions of life in Greenwich Village. The tensions we are light-headedly burdened with seem inherent to this micro system and fly by as normal; such as the standard of living in the two opposing buildings. The run-down ‘furnished’ apartment Jon rents for $75 a month sits across from an apartment building which he turns into his personal adult movie project – where the New Yorkian middle class reside in peaceful ignorance. The opposition of peeping Jon’s camera and wide windowed apartments across the street produce an ambivalence we feel towards his cheap take on pornography and obliviously unspoken need for shaking the habitual.

Perhaps the most overt splitting we experience is during the ‘Be Black, Baby’ sequence. Once more, Jon is stochastically drawn to violence, yet this time for the purpose of teaching WASPs what it’s like to be black. In this crude and haunting scene, we experience a catharsis of madness. African-Americans painted white and WASPs covered in black shoe polish swap power roles, in a theatrical attempt at developing empathy by inflicting pain. This extremist premise that a higher understanding can be achieved by torturing the subject is yet another by-product of a chronically oppressive regime.

Jon Rubin comes from the war zone, the unseen American territories. He fights morality with the absence of it. His actions raise the issue of hypocrisy in moral views on war and the home zone, which leaves us wondering where, if anywhere, the fictional border lies. In the final turn of his personal madness, Jon detonates the building where all American values once resided. He burns down the American dream. The film – and Jon’s guiltless trip – ends with him ranting about the insanity of the latest events and finally, greeting his mom on television.

Hi, Mom!


Tijana Perovic is working toward a PhD, while in parallel cultivating her emotional agility cinematically.

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