The Eyes of My Mother: The Mother of All Nightmares, by Andrew Benjamin
Imagine you were stuck in a nightmare that you couldn’t wake up from. You try to wake up but no matter how hard you try, it’s futile. That is the experience of watching The Eyes of my Mother. It is probably one of the darkest and grim movies you will see all year.
The movie begins with a young girl, Francesca, in the countryside who witnesses the brutal murder of her mother by a stranger she lets into her house. This event psychologically scars the girl in a huge way and we see that she gets older as the movie progresses. Her actions are to say the least are disturbing and that is an understatement. Saying what they are would be giving away too much but let’s just say it doesn’t involve giving flowers and making rainbows.
Clocking in at 76 minutes, a length that so rare among feature films now but should be acceptable for some films, is a nuanced, beautiful film that deals with loss and death. That there is nothing after our last breath and that during our lives that grim reality is always present. Filming the movie in black and white was a great choice. There is no color both literally and metaphorically in the film.
Kika Magalhaes (an actress who hasn’t really done anything of note yet) plays Francesca as an adult who still lives with her aging father. She gives a fantastic performance devoid of emotion and compassion. She plays the part so cold she could bring a new ice age. The way she says her lines has a unique, idiosyncratic cadence. However, it has to be stated Francesca is not a sympathetic character. She is a sad, pitiful person but nonetheless troubled human who makes reprehensible decisions.
Don’t expect long, drowning lines of dialogue exposition. The movie has very little dialogue. When there is dialogue, mostly English is spoken but there are instances where characters speak in Portuguese. This is entirely a visual film where the story is moved by what happens in the scenes and not dialogue. It’s a great choice and more movies need to do this.
During the press screening, four people walked out. This movie is not for everyone and it is going to cause disgust and resentment for some. Others will see a movie that opens a dialogue on the emptiness of life and death. It is going to stir emotions in everyone who sees it and it will not be a forgettable experience.