My Mother | Mia Madre | Cannes 2015
Director: Nanni Moretti
Cast: Margherita Buy, John Turturro, Giulia Lazzarini, Nanni Moretti, Beatrice Mancini, Stefano Abbati, Enrico Ianniello
106min Italian/US Drama
Nanni Moretti returns to his autobiographical style of The Son’s Room, for this latest drama MIA MADRE. But this is not just a bittersweet tale of an old woman gradually slipping off her mortal coil surrounded by her son (Moretti) and daughter (Buy) in a Rome hospital. Wry humour and confrontation are injected into a story which explores the relationship between a director who is making a film while her mother is dying in hospital. Margherita Buy plays the director and John Turturro, her leading man.
Although MIA MADRE lacks the gut-wrenching emotion of his Palme D’Or winner, The Son’s Room, this is another beautifully-evoked family story that brings subtly-nuanced intimacy, maturity and humour to the everlasting theme of loss and grief. Nanni draws from his own life story and the piece is very close to home: Moretti lost his own mother while filming Habemus Papam. Essentially a four-hander, Buy is brilliantly cast as an anxious, highly sensitive and driven professional who finds herself dealing with a teenage daughter while also moving out of her boyfriend, flat. But the more she tries to be objective the more her filmmaking and her personal life collide. Moretti is understated as her brother, Giovanni, in a laid back role that sees him languishing in the quiet resignation of his mother’s final hours. Margherita Buy is gentle yet gloriously neurotic as she describes her film about industrial conditions as “full of energy and hope” to her sceptical mother Ada (the veteran stage actress Giulia Lazzarini) who, despite the physical fragility of age, has clearly still retained her marbles and incisiveness of days as a teacher. It is a picture of a full and well-rounded life that’s drawing to a satisfactory close, whereas Margherita’s life is full of uncertainty, doubt, trauma that will resonate very much with contemporary audiences.
John Turturro plays her leas actor in her film – an American ‘star’ Barry Huggins, who leavens the constant hospital visits and high octane emotion with his scatty take as a factory owner tasked with mass redundancies – while he himself is struggling with his own demons as an actor. Full of insight and maturity, MIA MADRE provides surprisingly enjoyable, grown-up entertainment. MT
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL UNTIL 24 MAY 2015 | FURTHER COVERAGE UNDER CANNES 2015