Mia Madre

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Nanni Moretti’s 2001 Palm d’Or winning film The Son’s Room dealt with the loss of a child. While wrapping up We Have a Pope, his mother passed away which inspired him to co-write this story (along with directing and acting in it). It’s about a filmmaker at her wit’s end. Margherita is played by Margherita Buy and she’s a joy to watch. Her facial expressions are just perfect. Now, it’s going to be John Turturro who gets all the attention, but she’s just as good in this.

Turturro plays Barry Huggins, a temperamental, blowhard American actor. His Italian is horrible, and his acting worse. He brings a lot of comic relief to the movie, although the film does have problems jumping back and forth between comedy and drama.

As Margherita deals with problems on her film set, she also has a break-up with a boyfriend, a daughter flunking a class, and her mom (Giulia Lazzarini) in the hospital dying.

It’s hard to have much sympathy for Margherita in certain aspects of her life. Her boyfriend seems like a great guy. Her daughter is a good kid (despite the problems in Latin), and her brother Giovanni (Nanni Moretti) is a sweetheart, who has taken time away from work to help care for their mom.

We’ll find out later that students adored the mother, but the problem lies in Margherita’s nightly visits to the hospital. They’re rather boring. And with a movie that’s two hours long, they felt unnecessary. It seems that 20 minutes could have easily been edited out.

It’s also surprising that with a movie this long, we don’t really get to know much about these characters.

There are a few dreams and flashbacks that I suppose shed a little light on Margherita, but they’re a bit incoherent in their presentation.

Late in the movie when there’s a humorous birthday party scene where Turturro does a goofy dance, I thought about how this film had many scenes I enjoyed. It just felt like they didn’t go well together, and the whole picture felt uneven.

The movie doesn’t have the emotional heft it should, and it was a bit self-indulgent.

It’s the second movie I’ve seen this week that reminded me of Fellini’s 8 ½. Unfortunately, it gets a lot fewer stars than 8 ½. It gets 2 ½ out of 5.

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