Italian tragicomedy Mia Madre (My Mother) follows film director Margherita (Margherita Buy) as she attempts to control an exuberant American actor and struggles to cope with the imminent death of her mother Ada (Giulia Lazzarini).
Mia Madre Nanni Moretti

It comes from Italian director Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room) whose film within a film makes copious parallels. Margherita’s drama focusses on unemployment and strike action. She insists it’s full of hope. So is her hospitalised mother. Before Mia Madre concludes, the optimism of the laid-off and the sick will eventually morph into acceptance.

“Moretti presents cinema as just one of the ways we ‘interpret reality’”

Movies about cinema often strike a chord in the film industry. The Oscar success of this year’s Birdman – the tale of a decaying action star hoping to win acclaim on Broadway – is a case in point. But Moretti presents cinema as just one of the ways we ‘interpret reality’. Margherita makes sense of her unsteady world through dreams and memories, while her mother’s reality is often a medicated, dementia infused blur.

The arrival of vibrant American star Barry (John Turturro) sees Moretti turn his attention to the detail of everyday interaction: the commonplace disguises used to mask private selves. Margherita’s personal relationships are meticulously scrutinised and despite Moretti’s emphasis on intangible inter-generational connections, the gap Ada leaves is cavernous.
Mia Madre John Turturro

As the film’s title suggests, Moretti’s film is intensely personal. It’s also universal: full of grief, the complexities of life and family. Turturro’s scene-stealing comic energy is a well-needed antidote to these bleaker aspects of Mia Madre’s multiple personality.

 

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5

 

Certificate: 15
Running time: 106 minutes
Images: © 2015 Le Pacte
Mia Madre is in cinemas and on streaming services now

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