Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
TIFF 2015 - Film # 11
Reason for pick - director of We Have a Pope, The Sons Room
There was something that Italian director Nanni Moretti captured that resonated with me. His semi-autobiographical film deals with a director who is shooting a film while her mother is dying.
Both my parents passed away decades ago, and for those of you who have already gone through this experience, this cycle of life, will probably agree that the experience is somewhat surreal. The surreal quality acts as an insulator that keeps grief and sadness at bay. For me, it manifested in a 'waking dream' like state where you perform your everyday functions, but you keep thinking thoughts of what you have to do over and over. 'Did I talk to the doctor about this? .. Did I talk to the bank about that? .. Have I contacted all of our relatives .. all of her friends? Fitful is a good description.
I remember working, and facing work challenges where I simply wanted to shout 'Don't you know what I'm going through!', but secretly was grateful for the petty distraction. This petty distraction is served up by John Turturro, and his portrayal of the director's star, Barry Huggins, the stereotypically self absorbed, egotistical, actor that may have been A list at one point, but now is clearly on the decline.
What makes My Mother special, though, is that a character like Turturro's, who was clearly there to serve a single purpose, isn't just abandoned or thrown under the bus. There is some gentle humanization that Moretti expertly weaves into the emotional state of our protagonist, fictional director Margherita, played with strength and fragility by Margherita Buy.
Not without issues ... a 20 minute haircut could serve the film, My Mother has heart, but not heart worn on a sleeve. It's the best representation I've ever seen about the internal conflicts and emotions felt at a point in life that we all have faced, or will face.