Scary Mother ★★★½

Manana, a middle-aged housewife and mother with an uncertain grip on reality, alienates her family by writing a grotesque mise en abyme in Ana Urushadze’s strong first feature film, Scary Mother. Crafted with assurance, Mother asks whether or not art can be separated from the artist, painting Manana as a figurative and possibly literal vampire, drawing upon the oppression that she feels in her home life to power her incantatory literary achievement. It’s a strong film… one that insidiously gets under your skin, relying on subtle effects to relay Manana’s increasing immersion into her work at the expense of her disapproving family, capitalizing all the while on its uneasy combination of gendered liberation, madness, and our legitimate concern for Manana. Nato Murvanidze is very strong in the titular role, imbuing a character who could have come across as a literary conceit with a pulse.


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