Mia Madre (cert. 15. Ar­ti­fi­cial Eye)

The Church of England - - REVIEWS - Derek Walker

At first glance, the plot of Mia

Madre (My Mother) might

seem a lit­tle dour. In­de­pen­dent film pro­ducer Margherita (Margherita Buy) is strug­gling to bal­ance the day job with her home life as her mother Ada (Giulia Laz­zarini) goes into hospital and be­comes in­creas­ingly ill.

Adding to these pres­sures, her film – a low-bud­get po­lit­i­cal piece about a fac­tory clo­sure – fea­tures an Amer­i­can ac­tor called Barry Hug­gins (John Tur­turro), whose own strug­gle is re­mem­ber­ing his lines.

When her hus­band and teenage daugh­ter re­turn from a ski­ing holiday, home life gets a bit more fraught, as her daugh­ter Livia (Beatrice Mancini) finds ex­cuses not to do her home­work.

But while Mia Madre is or­di­nary enough to re­late to, it con­tin­u­ally floats above the mun­dane and never sucks the viewer into de­pres­sion, as Palme d’Or-win­ning di­rec­tor

Nanni Moretti (who lim­its him­self to a sup­port­ing role as Margherita’s out-of-work brother, Gio­vanni) han­dles the film with a del­i­cate touch, mak­ing it warm, in­tel­li­gent and ten­der. It cer­tainly helps that the charis­matic, but volatile, Barry steals many of the scenes he is in, adding reg­u­lar laugh-out-loud mo­ments.

The mix of film-mak­ing and mor­tal­ity have been a reg­u­lar part of Moretti’s port­fo­lio over the last 20 years and his own mother died while he was mak­ing 2011’s

Habe­mus Pa­pam (We Have a

Pope). So he is well-placed to find the hu­mour, re­lata­bil­ity and poignancy in such sit­u­a­tions.

In plot terms, this is struc­tured less like a novel and more like a short story. By the end, Moretti’s mes­sage, which never in­trudes into the tale, seems to be, “Live your life with to­mor­row in mind, but be good to those around you today.”

Ex­tras: only the trailer.

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