How does one translate the ferocious erotic works of Georges Bataille to the screen? In his essays and his fiction, Bataille, the French philosopher of transgression, described a range of forbidden acts, and he got off on them, too, yet he was searching for a poetic extreme of desire. In Ma Mère, adapted from a Bataille novel, Isabelle Huppert, who after playing a timid masochist in The Piano Teacher now seems to be turning into the high priestess of Gallic kink, wears a smirk of superiority as she takes on the role of the most libertine mother in France. She introduces her son (Louis Garrel), a morose gawker, to her sadomasochistic girlfriends, who are happy to initiate him into a world of threesomes, dog collars, and beatings. This, however, is just her way of getting ”close” to him. Ma Mère, while less prudish than Catherine Breillat’s dour deconstructions of sex, is also less competent. It winds up making incest look absurdly swank. Bataille had a scandalous imagination, but that doesn’t mean he was literal about it. Compelled by erotic visions, he fashioned them into fever dreams, which, in a movie like Ma Mère, become maladroit porn.