Mia Madre is Nanni Moretti’s semi-autobiographic story of a director (Margherita Buy) in the midst of shooting a heavy film about labor relations at a factory while dealing with the impending death of her mother (Giulia Lazzarini), who grows more frail by the day. A quiet, contemplative film loaded with tender moments, it’s a weird mix of drama and humor– I can’t call it comedy.
Plagued by a sense of distance, I found Mia Madre tough to get into. It could have been more moving had the characters been brought closer to the audience. As it is, Mia Madre lacks intimacy. The relationships, especially between the female characters of the family, are underdeveloped and beg for more information. Too many scenes, especially those at the hospital, fail to realize their dramatic potential and end up a snooze because I’m not sure who these people are. Perhaps that was strategic with a character like Margherite, but being removed and kept outside proved to be an obstacle in fully enjoying this film. I did not get involved or invested.
On a positive note, John Turturro, as usual, is great: his take on a narcissistic, loose cannon American actor who makes up shit about his credentials and seems incapable of remembering his lines adds much needed relief. I didn’t hate Mia Madre, but I didn’t find it all that interesting. It is not a film I would peg as the opener to a festival.
(Auditorium Theater) C-
Chicago International Film Festival