“The actor must be next to the character,” says the director in Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre. She’s directing a prestige picture in Italian about factory workers who go on strike. In real life she’s dealing with the degradation of her mother, a renowned Latin teacher, who is confined to a hospital bed. “The actor must be next to the character,” she says, although if this registers with anyone is another matter. Her biggest hurdle is an American actor (John Turturro), an egotistical blowhard who hits on her, fusses over his fake mustache, and can’t get his lines right. His scenes are funny & absurd, a respite from the sorrow pervading the movie. In between scenes on the movie set & scenes in the hospital, Moretti inserts digressions & dream sequences that let the movie breathe & lend it a surreal quality. Margherita Buy, exuding pathos & demanding attention, is excellent in the lead role.
In Italian, English, & French.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White