The Festival de Cannes competition presented two beautiful, moving films: Mia Madre (My Mother) by Nanni Moretti and Gus Van Sant’s drama The Sea of Trees.
Mia Madre (My Mother)
Nanni Moretti (Italy) – 1h42
Palme d’Or in 2001 for The Son’s Room, Nanni Moretti, Jury President in 2012, returns to competition in Cannes with Mia Madre, the shattering story of the end of a beloved mother.
Ah! La Mamma! Revered central character and pillar of the Italian family, so much celebrated in song. Ma la Mamma è un po ‘stanca. Even seriously ill, as Ada (Giulia Lazzarini) is lying in the hospital for a pneumonia with complications, and the shade of death is lingering in the room. Around her, her daughter Margherita (Margherita Buy), a filmmaker and her son Giovanni (Nanni Moretti), takes turns to comfort her.
A complicated shooting
To show the tensions underlying the film, Moretti’s storytelling alternates the episodes of Margherita’s complicated filming with flashbacks, dreams, and slices of everyday lives.
While taking care of her mother, Margherita has to manage her film with Barry (John Turturro), an American actor a bit megalomaniac, subject to early Alzheimer’s, and to assume her doubts about her art and her private anxieties: she just left her companion and her daughter Julia (Beatrice Mancini) is a teenage girl with desires for freedom.
A poignant story
The scenes of shooting are worth their weight in gold with John Turturro, playing a Barry in decline, who forgets his lines but is always good at jokes. We waver from laughter to the tragic during the poignant story with dignity about the end of a mother, who besides being a teacher for her students, was also a teacher of life. The last scene sums up a mother’s life who shows optimism against all odds: when Margherita asks her what she is thinking, she responds: “About tomorrow”…
Alongside the suffering mother, Margherita Buy’s central character is moving, played with finesse and expressive facial expressions showing the little girl who still lives in her, desperate to be unable to stop the course of death – all what she has learned in life is useless. The actress is to be considered for an acting award.
The Sea of Trees
Gus Van Sant (Usa) – 1h50
The Sea Of Trees, starring Matthew McConaughey (best actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club), Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe, is evoking the invisible bonds between lovers and the magic of nature.
In the quest for the cinematic Grail, it is not Arthur and the Brocéliande forest, but Arthur and the magic of the Aokigahara forest that Gus Van Sant, Palme d’Or winner in 2003 for Elephant, is staging.
The best place to die
After his wife died in a tragic accident, Arthur wants to die. He had promised his wife to see his final hour come in the best place to die. A Google search made him discover the Aokigahara forest at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, a cult place where many desperate people come from all countries to kill themselves. The wind blows waves in the tops of the trees, hence the name of Sea of Trees.
Lost in the forest
By the time Arthur begins to swallow some pills with the intention to commit suicide, a wounded man appears, staggering with weakness. Arthur goes to help him out and, leaving aside his decision to die, will help him to survive throughout a journey into the depths of the forest where they get lost and brave the elements and nature’s harshness.
Home of Tamashi
Takami, Arthur’s companion in misfortune, is a Japanese employee put on the shelf, hence his desire of “no more living.” Throughout their wandering, flashbacks revive the painly love affair between Arthur and Joan (Naomi Watts). Gradually, the two men confide in each other and Arthur let his grief speak, eventually forgetting his desire to die, while Takami tries to make him accept that the forest is home of Tamashi – spirits in purgatory – the laments of which one can hear sometimes.
Therapy by the bonfire and orchid
It must be recognized that the forest gives a second chance to suicidal people: it brings together two life castaways for a therapy by the bonfire, it offers clothing and a tent with walkie-talkie and a ribbon leading to the exit. And where a soul has found the way to heaven, an orchid grows…
It’s this flower – Joan’s favorite – that Arthur finds when he comes back to save his companion that he left to get help. But no trace of the Japanese. It is not unreasonable to believe that…
The film is very beautiful, very aesthetic, the actors’ performance is grandiose, but the scenario is a bit conventional on the end. Gus Van Sant should have left each viewers’ imagination “find its own ribbon”, instead of providing a “text explanation” inciting them to really believe in the intervention of magic invisible love bonds beyond death.
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