Mia Madre, aka My Mother, is a slice-of-life drama with Margherita Buy as Margherita, a director who’s making a movie about social class and the potential closure of a factory as it falls into the hands of a seemingly unscrupulous individual portrayed by Barry Huggins (John Turturro), a tempremental and rather terrible actor who’s somehow still made 105 films in over 30 years. I know *I* wouldn’t hire him, if I were a director!
Margherita gets overly obsessed about the minutae of her work to the point where things drive her to distraction, but she has good reason not to feel at her best as her mother, Ada (Giulia Lazzarini), is dying in hospital while all this is going on. Thrown into the mix, her daughter, Livia (Beatrice Mancini), is learning Latin with the help of Ada, but there’s also a side plot about Margherita’s brother Giovanni (Nanni Moretti) taking a leave of absence from work, for no apparent reason, and thus that doesn’t really work.
However, it’s mostly Margherita’s story and takes us through the harrowing process of trying to get ready to lose a parent. It’s coming, it’s inevitable, but you don’t want it to happen. There’s one scene where Ada wants Margherita to take her to the toilet, rather than getting a nurse, and prior to losing my father in January of this year, there was a moment during one of his many hospital stays when this is exactly what happened to me. It’s a combination of frustration at wanting to be independent, and not wanting to hang around for a nurse to do the honours that gets to them, but the staff would come two at a time and are trained for such urgent situations. To anyone who hasn’t been through this, it may not seem like a big deal, but I only hope it’s something you don’t have to go through.
I knew nothing beforehand of the work of Nanni Moretti, but I saw Mark Kermode enthuse about it on the BBC News Film Review at the time of the cinema release (that episode sadly no longer online), and I’m glad I took up the recommendation. I definitely need to watch it again without my ‘reviewing hat’ on, so I can just enjoy it without having to think.
Mia Madre features some dream/nightmare sequences, some fantasy sequence and a tand-out performance from Margherita Buy, and comes very much recommended. In fact, when my father died, it became clear just how many colleagues and friends have also suffered such a loss, so this film will resonate with many people.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and is as pin-sharp as you’d expect. Of course, the factory filming locations still look like it needs a lick of paint, but that’s because it’s meant to 😉 I’m watching this on a 50″ Panasonic Plasma TV.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1, but it’s a dialogue-led drama and doesn’t have any split-surround action here, but there’s a most welcome score from a variety of composers and artists including Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen.
As for the extras, there’s just… a trailer (1:27). No interviews, no deleted scenes, nothing else. What a shame.
The menu features clips set to a short piece of the main theme, plus there are just the bog-standard lazy 12 chapters to the disc. The dialogue is a mix of Italian and English language, but the latter is not subtitled. This also happens with Arrow’s Nordic Noir series during any, occasional, English dialogue, and I wish they wouldn’t skimp on that, either.
Running time: 107 minutes
Released: December 7th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: Italian, English
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Nanni Moretti
Producers: Nanni Moretti and Domenico Procacci
Screenplay: Nanni Moretti, Francesco Piccolo and Valia Santella (based on the story by Nanni Moretti, Valia Santella, Gaia Manzini and Chiara Valerio)
Margherita: Margherita Buy
Barry Huggins: John Turturro
Ada: Giulia Lazzarini
Giovanni: Nanni Moretti
Livia: Beatrice Mancini
Federico: Stefano Abbati
Vittorio : Enrico Ianniello
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.