Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mia Madre (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Mia Madre

The introspective writer/director Nanni Moretti (Caro Dario) is back with "Mia Madre." This is a thoughtful and rhythmic film about a seasoned filmmaker striving to express her ideas while contending with various impending pressures, not least of them being mortality.

Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a director deep in the production of a socially conscious film about the exploitation of factory workers. She puts herself though a rigorous and often uncomfortable schedule of work with little or no rest for sleeping or eating, even though friends and associates urge her to break. Margherita's mother Ada (Guilia Lazzarini) is seriously ill in the hospital and she is constantly going to location and then back to the hospital to check in on her.

This is a slow and wistful film that tightens by degrees and then hits with impact. Nanni Moretti, (who also plays the Margherita's brother, Giovanni ) is often autobiographical and has been called "The Italian Woody Allen". While the film is confessional and existential in tone, it does have episodic touches peppered throughout.

Actor John Turturro is Barry, a self important Method actor who can't be bothered to learn his lines. His behavior off-set, combined with his manic stubbornness makes him insufferable. To complicate matters, no one takes Margherita's directions. She returns to her mother's bed, feeling indecisive about her life's path and also wracked with guilt as a caregiver and a mother herself.

While this film is less quirky than Moretti's earlier outings as it centers on the relationship between a director and her mother, fans of Nanni Moretti the auteur will find his trademarks. In recurring scenes, Margherita talks to a younger version of herself as she exits a movie theater. In another, she wakes from a dream to discover that her bedroom floor has become flooded with water, cause unknown.

"Mia Madre" is circular and sneaky. Above all it highlights the boundaries between mother and daughter, creator and parent: a universal point of emotion that stretches beyond earth and into the spaces of ghosts and memory.

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