SMALL SCREEN SELECTION
Mia Madre (cert. 15. Artificial Eye)
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.