Saturday, August 15, 2015

NY Film Festival 2015: Mortal Transience Issues Upstage Mass Movements In Mia Madre

    Dazed And Confused Direction Of The Italian Working Class

Midlife crisis and mortality fixations meet mass movement impulses to the unfortunate disadvantage of the latter, in Nanni Moretti's Mia Madre [My Mother]. A far too heaping thematic plate overflowing with existential fixations and middle class alienation from the masses, the emotionally insular family drama with its blurred inside looking out, melancholy perspective positions the notion of art struggling not politically, but to rise above subjugation to the implicit domination of fleeting existence on this planet.

Margherita Buy is Margherita, a sullen, rigid movie director concurrently facing the terminal illness of her mother (Giulia Lazzarini). A character reportedly based on Moretti himself as he faced the loss of his own mother, Margherita is in the process of filming a drama about a factory worker uprising and plant occupation to protest layoffs along with job and salary cuts.

But Margherita's distraction related to her mother's imminent demise, along with a somewhat baffled, alienated cast as to what it really means to be workingclass - and more in tune with mounting a more familiar conventional action thriller of sorts - nearly brings the production to intermittent standstill. And further exacerbated by the import of flamboyant American actor Barry Huggins (John Turturro) to the proceedings, to play the new domineering factory owner. An introduction to the disorderly situation at hand which fumbles both comically and thematically, as Huggins struggles with both the language barrier and repeatedly forgotten lines, along with an annoyingly itchy fake mustache.

With this uneasy balance of too many plot points shoe horned into too little time as the elderly invalid's condition progressively worsens, pressing themes are given too little space to breathe. Including regrettably the mass movement film production reflecting the pressing issue of Italy's current socio-economic chaotic reality. And how and why artists are compelled to continue to create in the face of their inevitable mortality, in particular mirrored with alarm when loved ones are passing away. While Moretti's insertion of his own thinly fleshed out role as the filmmaker's slightly less dazed and confused sibling Giovanni, doesn't help matters either.

All of which results in an ethereal, lyrically textured group portrait of family loss and disintegration, with a fragile, tentative future hope focused on a vague 'tomorrow' to continue to somehow creatively carry on. But too many less is in no way more, narrative strands abandoned by the wayside, of both the film within a film and Moretti's Mia Madre.

More information about the NY Film Festival 2015 is online at:

Prairie Miller

Arts Express, Airing On The WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations


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