Mammoth is a 2009 Swedish film directed by Lukas Moodysson, about a successful New York couple experiencing conditions related to modern day globalization. The couple is played by Gael García Bernal and Michelle Williams, in the roles of Leo and Ellen Vidales. The title refers to the mammoth ivory pen Leo receives as a gift, and loosely to a quote from one of Moodysson’s poetry collections: “Our Savior buried like a Mammoth.”
Leo and Ellen are a successful New York couple, totally immersed in their work. Leo is the creator of a booming website, and has stumbled into a world of money and big decisions. He has to board a business flight to Thailand in order to sign a contract. What ensues in the next few days is a critique on the social dilemmas that result from globalization.
Three years after his “experimental” phase wrapped with the jarring, iconoclastic Container, Swedish enfant terrible Lukas Moodysson returned for this sprawling, ambitious social drama. Echoing Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel and featuring two Hollywood A-listers as his leads, Mammoth also marked the director’s premier English-language project. Michelle Williams and Gael García Bernal co-star as Ellen and Leo, New York marrieds; she’s an emergency-room surgeon, he’s a listless, vaguely dissatisfied Internet game designer. They have a family, albeit an unconventional and dysfunctional one: seven-year-old daughter Jackie (Sophie Nyweide) is practically being raised by a 24/7 Filipino caregiver, Gloria (Marife Necesito), who dotes on her incessantly. This provokes the envy of Ellen and the resentment of Gloria’s two geographically estranged sons, Manuel (Martin Delos Santos) and Salvador (Jan Nicdao), who repeatedly phone their mom from Manila and plead with her to come home. Gloria’s mother grows so distressed by this behavior that she attempts to show Salvador just how easy his life is in comparison to that of others, which leads to unanticipated tragic consequences. Meanwhile, Leo teams up with a shifty associate, Bob (Tom McCarthy), flies to Thailand, and encounters a freewheeling, laid-back working mother named Cookie (Run Srinikornchot). Step by step, the actions that Leo takes while abroad create a domino effect and alter everyone’s lives in irreversible ways.