Italy, 2016, 106 min, 2K DCP, Dir. Nanni Moretti, Rated R for language, Italian with English subtitles, Music Box Films
"Good, strong, understated filmmaking is enlivened by Moretti's characteristic wry blend of drama and humor." - Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
In the touching new film by Italian master Nanni Moretti, a harried filmmaker tries to juggle the production of her new film with visits to the bedside of her dying mother. If most films dealing with aging and death are somber and melancholic, Mia Madre adds large doses of glorious, anarchic comedy. The film's story has a clear autobiographical bent: Moretti lost his own mother during the shooting of We Have A Pope, his previous film. But he gives the filmmaker's role not to himself, but to his charismatic muse, Margherita Buy. He steps into a secondary role as the brother / son who does most of the caregiving while his sister runs between the film set and hospital, trying frantically to be both a consummate professional and a dutiful daughter. What also elevates this film into a gentle kind of feminist manifesto is not just Buy's character, but also that of the mother (Giulia Lazzarini), a teacher of classical literature. Moretti displaces himself further by giving the major male part to John Turturro, who plays the brash, outsized American star of the film-within-a-film with great comic flourish. Winner of the coveted Ecumenical Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Mia Madre finds Moretti at the top of his game. A comedy-drama inflected with a quiet sense of grief, it's a work that revels in human imperfections - in people who simply can't stop being who they are: selfish and spoilt, yet still very endearing. Moretti celebrates both the best and worst in all of us.