Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Mia Madre
Italy/France, 2015. Sacher Film, Fandango, Le Pacte, Rai Cinema, Ifitalia, Arte France Cinema, Fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l’Europe, Ministero per I Beni e le Attivita Culturali, Arte/WDR Films Boutique, Canal+, Cine+, Cinémage 8, Cofinova 10, L’Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, Le Pacte, Palatine Étoile 11, Regione Lazio. Story by Nanni Moretti, Valia Santella, Gaia Manzini, Chiara Valerio, Screenplay by Nanni Moretti, Francesco Piccolo, Valia Santella. Cinematography by Arnaldo Catinari. Produced by Nanni Moretti, Domenico Procacci. Production Design by Paola Bizzarri. Costume Design by Valentina Taviani. Film Editing by Clelio Benevento.
Nanni Moretti combines humour with sentiment in this semi-autobiographical tale of a filmmaker (Margherita Buy, filling in for Moretti himself) who is trying to make a politically-minded film with an exasperating Italian-American movie star (John Turturro) while dealing with her mother’s decline in health. Filming all day and visiting her former Latin teacher mother in the hospital at night, Buy is at her wit’s end trying to stay on top of everything but constantly feeling like she’s failing, her fatigue frequently compounded by nagging dreams that bring up feelings of confusion and regret. Days of dealing with Turturro’s ego (which he performs beautifully) and the relief of her mother’s sweet nature and vulnerable state eventually add up, giving her a clarity for managing the relationships in her life (including her generous brother played by Moretti). The director has possibly told this story too soon after living it himself, the film highly enjoyable but feels mainly like it is marking the experience for posterity; there’s not much explored or revealed about either the creative process or the charting of a loved one’s decline, but what is presented is acted beautifully and genuinely moving. Buy has always had an easy command of the screen and here shoulders the entire thing with the same confidence she has always had, but it would be nice if the film had more wit and not just humour, and more poignancy instead of pure (though never mawkish) sentimentality.
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition
European Film Award Nomination: Best European (Margherita Buy); Best European Director (Nanni Moretti)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2015