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Mia madre (2015)

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Margherita, a director in the middle of an existential crisis, has to deal with the inevitable and still unacceptable loss of her mother.

Director:

Nanni Moretti

Writers:

Nanni Moretti (story), Valia Santella (story) | 5 more credits »
11 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Margherita Buy ... Margherita
John Turturro ... Barry Huggins
Giulia Lazzarini Giulia Lazzarini ... Ada
Nanni Moretti ... Giovanni
Beatrice Mancini Beatrice Mancini ... Livia
Stefano Abbati Stefano Abbati ... Federico
Francesco Acquaroli Francesco Acquaroli
Anna Bellato Anna Bellato ... Attrice
Lorenzo Gioielli Lorenzo Gioielli ... Interprete
Enrico Ianniello Enrico Ianniello ... Vittorio
Toni Laudadio Toni Laudadio ... Produttore (as Tony Laudadio)
Tatiana Lepore Tatiana Lepore ... Segretaria di edizione
Pietro Ragusa Pietro Ragusa ... Bruno
Monica Samassa Monica Samassa ... Medico
Vanessa Scalera Vanessa Scalera ... Infermiera
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Storyline

These are hard days for Margherita, who is going through a very difficult period in her life. On a professional level first, the middle-aged film director, has started wondering whether the committed movies she has been making are really an actual reflection of the world she lives in ; on top of this, she is in conflict not only with her crew but also, and primarily, with Barry Huggins, a well-known American actor of Italian origin, who proves awfully bad and uncontrollable. On the personal level, things do not get any better - it could even be said they are worse. Margherita has just left her life partner and she has become unable to relate to her teenage daughter. As for her mother, she is now seriously ill and her doctor tries to prepare her brother and her for the worst. Which is unacceptable to the weakened woman who can find salvation only in denial of reality. Will she manage to face up to the facts and to come to terms with herself? Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France | Germany

Language:

Italian | English | French

Release Date:

26 August 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Margherita See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

€7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

€1,110,769 (Italy), 20 April 2015, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,098, 28 August 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$301,664, 30 October 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sacher Film,Fandango,Le Pacte See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby (as Dolby 5.1)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When writing the script, Nanni Moretti used what he had written during his mother's sickness. See more »

Connections

References Boccaccio '70 (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Bevete più latte
Composed by Nino Rota
Lyrics by Mario Cantini
Performed by various characters
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sorrowful Life and Comical Death
21 December 2015 | by helen-51122See all my reviews

When was the last time you heard a great last line in a movie? So great it made you burst into tears? The final line in "Mia Madre" is not a brilliant sentence in itself. (Then again, is "rosebud" profound in itself?) But in context – the way it references an earlier conversation in the film, as well as sums up the theme of the movie, and most importantly creates a definitive and meaningful end to the story (and endings are always difficult, even for the best filmmakers), in that way, this was an enormously powerful and stirring end – probably the best final line to a movie that anyone will hear in this 53rd New York Film Festival. And it literally made me cry out loud.

Basically, this is a story about a woman whose mother is dying. But, don't imagine grim or depressing. Those Italians, they understand Sorrowful Life and Comical Death in ways that Americans just do not. It's like writer/director Nanni Moretti ("The Son's Room") is tapping into an ancient source of pure emotion. And he does it so gracefully. The film is gently, deeply astute. The lyricism in the language adds to the effect; Italian is such an elegant language. It's all part of this organic sensation that comes from the film – this gorgeous feeling that grows out of my stomach and blooms in my chest.

In conversation after the screening, Moretti actually says that he wants the audience to feel that the movie is digging inside of them. That's exactly what I felt. Or, I felt the movie carving into me. As I watched, I felt like I was being sculpted. I felt as if a great master, Michelangelo, was carefully cutting, chiseling into me, and so he – the sculptor, the director, the writer – is making us – the audience – into his magnificent carved creation. And in that way, Moretti is elevating us with his talent, his vision. He is making us sublime.

Except it really wasn't "us." It was just me alone and that movie. It was so intimate. I start off watching the movie from outside and thinking about it – thinking I will "review" it, and then I am in the movie. I am living it. It is living me. I am not audience observing a film; we are involved in each other in some palpable way. It's almost physical – like I can literally feel it touching me. It brings me to life in an odd way; I can feel my heart inside my body.

Of course, the death of a parent is a universal experience, but this film manages to make it feel uniquely personal. I feel as if this director has been watching me in my life, with my family, and is now explaining myself to me. Although, I suspect it's an explanation that will feel relevant or resonant to nearly every adult. Perhaps the film score helps me to feel so fully enthralled – a variety of music from Leonard Cohen, Philip Glass, Nino Rota, and Arvo Part.

Other critics may focus on the story that binds the film's emotions together. The lead character (played with glorious subtlety by Margherita Buy) is an Italian filmmaker who is shooting a movie while her mother is dying in a hospital. Actually, this is a semi- autobiographical film in that Mortetti had his mother die while he was shooting a previous film. However, I think that fact is more significant to the personal life of Moretti than to the body of this film; having an experience and elevating that experience to an art form are two very different things.

In this movie, the story functions to bring in the outside world and its pressing realities and complexities. The specifics of what job the central character has are mostly inconsequential. Although, it is worth noting that the character's persistent and diligent return to the stress of her work environment, after each vigil beside her dying mother, shows that life goes on.

But the story also functions by bringing smartly implemented humor. John Tuturro plays an American who is a hilariously bad actor in the film that our lead is trying to make. Tuturro's approach is broad and exuberant, which is startling in this otherwise quiet movie, and ultimately Tuturro's excited approach not only works but becomes essential to Moretti's message. I am laughing, I am crying, I am laughing, I am crying… I am exalted.

Another running joke in the film is when our protagonist director repeatedly tells her actors to "be the character you are playing at the same time as you stand outside the character." No one understands this instruction, and finally the director herself admits that she doesn't know what she means. But I see this as appropriately consistent with my unusual experience of the film; I am both standing outside it, watching, and in it, experiencing.

Fundamentally, this is a story about emotion. It's an exploration of humanity. It is life and death – beautiful and heartbreaking, devastating and inspiring. It was excruciating to watch a scene where our lead character is stripped naked and exposed (metaphorically); she's made vulnerable and cut to shreds – destroyed. Then, she goes and sits silently beside her dying mother, and that gives her new life. It revives her. It saves her. Death is breathing life while life is killing her.

In the press conference, Moretti is talking, with his lovely Italian accent, and I hear… "love erupts in solitude." I don't even know what that means, but I totally feel it. I leave the theater feeling newly alive.


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