Nanni Moretti’s family drama Mia Madre (My Mother) was talked about with high praise when it seen at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. And though it missed out on the Palme d’Or (to Dheepan) it came away with the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Stealthily paced, and consistently emotive (though never over the top), Mia Madre packs a subtle punch, a fine, grounded effort, bringing some light-heartedness and bittersweet tones to an otherwise sullen, strong drama.
Depicting a woman, Margherita, balancing the strains of trying to shoot a film with a difficult actor, ending her current relationship, and helping her brother look after their ailing mother who now resides in hospital, Margherita allows the weight of the world to fall on her own shoulders. Her conversing with others around is affected, the guilt and sorrow she feels shine through.
John Turturro shows up as entitled actor Barry Huggins and flaunts his exuberance, causing some chaos and disorder on set. It is a great turn from Turturro, full of energy, providing the picture with some welcome humor – and also dabbling in some native Italian. In the acting stakes, though, the film belongs to Margherita Buy, clearly, openly suffering through the illness of her dying mother, with some family around her, while also trying to keep it together during her demanding role as a film director. Obstacles and potential grief collide, and it is all she can do to keep standing until the heat cools down.