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L'ora di religione (Il sorriso di mia madre)
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My Mother's Smile (2002) More at IMDbPro »L'ora di religione (Il sorriso di mia madre) (original title)


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Up 10% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Marco Bellocchio (written by)
View company contact information for My Mother's Smile on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 April 2002 (Italy) See more »
A celebrated painter receives a visit from a cardinal's assistant, who informs him that his mother could become a saint. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
16 wins & 16 nominations See more »
(2 articles)
400 Screens, 400 Blows - Vincere
 (From Cinematical. 28 March 2010, 7:02 AM, PDT)

Almodovar Dominates European Film Awards
 (From WENN. 9 December 2002)

User Reviews:
Best film I've seen all year! See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order)

Sergio Castellitto ... Ernesto Picciafuocco
Jacqueline Lustig ... Irene Picciafuocco
Chiara Conti ... Diana Sereni
Gigio Alberti ... Ettore Picciafuocco
Alberto Mondini ... Leonardo Picciafuocco

Gianfelice Imparato ... Erminio Picciafuocco
Gianni Schicchi ... Filippo Argenti (as Gianni Schicchi Gabrieli)
Maurizio Donadoni ... Cardinal Piumini
Donato Placido ... Egidio Picciafuocco
Renzo Rossi ... Baldracchi
Pietro De Silva ... Curzio Sandali
Bruno Cariello ... Don Pugni

Piera Degli Esposti ... Aunt Maria
Toni Bertorelli ... Count Ludovico Bulla
Maria Luisa Bellocchio ... Zia Ernesto
Letizia Bellocchio ... Zia Ernesto
Giovanni Cappelli ... Autista
Ada Ferrata ... Madre Ernesto
Lino Bonanni ... Eugenio
Hubert Grieco ... Gaspare
Amerigo Alberani ... Oppositore Bulla
Mariam Guled Giama ... Cameriera Irene
Valentina Karakhanian ... Cantante lirica
Giorgio Cantelli ... Arbitro duello
Renata Moro ... Segretaria zia Maria
Stefano D'Amadio ... Fotografo set
Giuseppe Eusepi ... Il Cristo
Elena Bellocchio ... Prima bambina
Chiara Natoli ... Seconda bambina
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marco Bellocchio
Fabrizio Giannini
Serena Mastrosimone

Directed by
Marco Bellocchio 
Writing credits
Marco Bellocchio (written by)

Produced by
Marco Bellocchio .... producer
Sergio Pelone .... producer
Original Music by
Riccardo Giagni 
Cinematography by
Pasquale Mari 
Film Editing by
Francesca Calvelli 
Casting by
Beatrice Kruger  (as Béatrice Kruger)
Production Design by
Marco Dentici 
Set Decoration by
Paola Riviello 
Costume Design by
Sergio Ballo 
Makeup Department
Rosalba Cimino .... additional makeup artist
Sabrina Romanelli .... hair stylist
Production Management
Sandra Bonacchi .... production supervisor
Gianluca Chiaretti .... production manager (as Gian Luca Chiaretti)
Luigi Lagrasta .... general organizer
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Daniela Ceselli .... assistant director
Giuseppe Eusepi .... assistant director
Art Department
Marco Bellocchio .... paintings
Daria Calvelli .... paintings
Gian Maria Cau .... assistant art director
Briseide Siciliano .... assistant art director
Sound Department
Maurizio Argentieri .... sound
Gianluca Basili .... sound effects editor
Sergio Basili .... foley artist
Filippo Bussi .... sound consultant: dts
Emanuela Di Giunta .... sound editor
Vincenzo Nardi .... boom operator
Angelo Raguseo .... sound re-recording mixer
Special Effects by
Franco Galiano .... special effects supervisor
Visual Effects by
Gianluca Dentici .... visual effects artist
Camera and Electrical Department
Francesco Cavazza .... first loader
Giancarlo Checchi .... electrician
Duccio Cimatti .... Steadicam operator (as Guido Cimatti)
Stefano D'Amadio .... still photographer
Mercedes Porter Hope .... assistant camera
Riccardo Ricci .... grip
Daniele Rucci .... grip
Casting Department
Cristina Raffaeli .... casting assistant
Editorial Department
Pasquale Cuzzupoli .... color supervisor
Gian Luca Guerra .... post-production coordinator
Music Department
Riccardo Giagni .... music consultant
Other crew
Caterina Barlucchi .... additional script supervisor
Iole Natoli .... script supervisor
Roberto Ornaro .... production accountant
Lucille Cristaldi .... additional thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"L'ora di religione (Il sorriso di mia madre)" - Italy (original title)
See more »
105 min | France:102 min (Cannes Film Festival)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Director Cameo: [Marco Bellocchio]Man with Count Bulla at the party.See more »
Miscellaneous: When Ernesto looked up his family on the computer Egidio's birth year was listed as 1950. Seconds later when he looks again, it is listed as 1951.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Good Morning, Night (2003)See more »
ModeratoSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
12 out of 17 people found the following review useful.
Best film I've seen all year!, 30 May 2002
Author: Kári Driscoll from Oxford, England

Ernesto Picciafuoco is a painter and illustrator of children's books, separated from his wife and father of the boy Leonardo, to whom he is very close. One day he receives a visit from the mysterious Don Pugni who informs him that the church has for the past three years been considering the canonisation his mother, who was murdered by his mentally unstable brother many years before. He is profoundly shocked by this news, not merely because he has been kept in the dark by his family, but also because it contrasts violently with his bohemian lifestyle as an artist, free man and an atheist. The memory of his mother forces him to come to terms with the past and also to change the way he thinks about his present life.

Trapped between the church on the one hand, which is determined to establish the truth of his mother's alleged martyrdom, and his brothers on the other, each in one way or another defeated by life and determined to re-establish the lost honour and respectability of the family, Ernesto presents them with his only mode of defence: his own mother's ironic and detached smile, the smile of a woman he has always considered "passive, simply stupid, and even a little cold". He is constantly on the move, thrown between family get-togethers, an interview with the cardinal Don Piumini, an illogical and anachronistic duel at sunrise with the eccentric Count Bulla to whom honour is everything (and once again it is his mother's wry smile that betrays Ernesto's true feelings), and a meeting with a mysterious and beautiful young woman who may or may not be his son's R.E. teacher; a woman to whom the door to his atelier is curiously always open.

Initially, I was worried that I wouldn't understand the issues dealt with in the film, as they are specifically Italian in nature. Thus the "vittoriano" monument in Rome, detested by the vast majority of the Italian population is a recurrent symbol in the film, as is obviously the theme of sanctification and the papacy as a whole, coupled with the debate about the fascist past and the royal family (in exile since the end of the Second World War). However, I loved the film, because it is not truly about these specific aspects of Italian culture and society; rather it uses these to probe deeper into the human psyche. Obviously the theme of religion plays an important role (incidentally, I don't at all agree with the English translation of the title, the Religion Hour, which means nothing: it should much rather have been translated as "Religious Education" or something of the sort, in order even to come close to the Italian double sense of Leonardo's class at school as well as his father Ernesto's sudden obligation to confront the issue), but it is not about the Catholic religion as such, but rather a more personal faith. In Ernesto's case, this faith turns out not to be in God, but in the love of a woman.

It is to a large extent a very strange film (Bellocchio himself has described it as a "very bizarre detective story"). The duel with Count Bulla, Ernesto's threefold betrayal by his mother's smile (the subtitle of the film), and the unexplained significance of the "vittoriano" monument are all very difficult to understand, but this impact of the film in undeniable, and although any concrete message that the film might be trying to deliver remains opaque, the ultimate point is for the individual viewer to extract some personal significance from the film and to think about some of the themes presented -- I went to see the film in the evening and spent the entire following day thinking about it; how often can you claim that about a film?

The strong performances by the cast and the interesting array of characters coupled with the dreamlike and at times surreal images make for a beautiful, at times magical (such as the wonderful scene at the end when Ernesto chases Diana around his flat), and always intriguing. Beautiful: 10/10

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