21 April 2015 | James_De_Bello
Quick disclaimer before getting into the review: despite being Italian I have absolutely zero familiarity with the work of Nanni Moretti, this was the first of his films I saw and my judgment is based solely on the movie itself, I don't know anything about Moretti's style, his filmography nor the types of movie he makes.
So, to the movie. "Mia Madre" is best defined by myself as a nice movie. I know it sounds cheap, but that is what I really thought of it. It has many problems, that when added up surprisingly leave you with a movie that is much better than you expected while watching it. This is thanks to a very human story, that, as every element in the film has its flaws, but ultimately succeeds because of its intimacy to every human being. I really find it hard to describe why this film worked, mainly because I myself have yet to understand why having many reservations about it, but it simply was engaging and never ever boring, it struck an emotional chord and touched something. Absolutely brilliant is Giulia Lazzarini and probably the main reason for which the film succeeds, and her moments with Beatrice Mancini were no doubt the most engaging parts to watch. Practically, on the positive side I just can say that there there is some very under toned filmaking going on behind the camera that works pretty well, it left me with a pleasant experience despite the fact that time and time again I found something wrong with movie.
On the point I have some very big negatives to get out. Firstly, Margherita Buy is slightly uneven in her performance, it's not a bad one, just an underwhelming one. Now, as I said before I have no familiarity with Nanni Moretti, but I hope this is not the way he always acts because it was pretty bad. He may be a good director/writer, but as an actor he didn't quite work here and that may e due to the fact that his character is pretty bland. Some other minor negatives before I get to the big ones: photography isn't exactly the best, I really do believe that with a better cinematography this film could have been miles ahead. Editing too isn't really solid, but it never reaches the level of being sloppy. But, the biggest reservation I had was just how much this filmed copied, yes copied not borrowed, from Fellini's 8 1/2 and to an extent even to Sorrentino's "La Grande Bellezza". There were scenes where I felt like I was watching those movies, not a new one. The music choice, the editing style, the tone, the content, everything seemed to be taken out from them, stirred a bit and then put back in. The thing is, they do it pretty shamelessly too, they even put a scene that is screaming "La Dolce Vita". Some of the borrowed pieces of these films work, but when added to the entire movie they just stick out. All of the negative elements above essentially lead to an uneven film, way too many times a scene passes under your head or you question why you are watching it.
Thankfully all of those negatives don't add up in the final product, looked as a whole, not scene by scene, to a simply pleasant journey, I had a good time with the film, but I am very angry at some of the things it did.
On a totally silly side note: that poster is probably the worst poster I have ever seen. Doesn't make someone want to watch the film at all!