In Tree of Life, Jessica Chastain played a mother who could float. In Mama, she’s attacked by one. Chastain shot this dignified little thriller in fall 2011 during the stretch when literally every arthouse theater played at least two of her pictures—between Tree, Coriolanus, The Help, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields and The Debt, she was indie cinema’s inescapable new queen. Universal intended to release the Guillermo del Toro-produced Mama last October, but shelved it until the week after Chastain was nominated for an Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty. Is this her reputation-besmirching Norbit? Pshaw — for my money, it’s her best performance yet.
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