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GOOD MOTHER (2021, FRANCE) – 7/10

Mom is often the person who holds everything together and balances carefully, carefully and smartly so that everything doesn’t fall apart and go to hell, and whom everyone asks for help when they run into some problems. This is certainly true for the mother from this quality French drama written and directed by actress Hafsia Herzi, premiered in Cannes, where “Bonne mere” or “Good Mother” won the award for best acting ensemble in the Un Certain Regard section. Sixty-year-old Nora, originally from Ajir, Tunisia or Morocco, did not allow her family to fall apart even after her eldest son ended up in prison on charges of robbing a gas station. It was a fine family drama set in those typical immigrant projects of large French cities, and I found this film particularly interesting because such stories set in those parts of the city were usually told from a male perspective.

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“Bonne mere” is a film narrated from a woman’s perspective, and although it is clear to us that these are the dangerous parts of the city where it is not advisable for tourists to get lost, it was primarily a humanistic drama. It was filmed in a typical European naturalistic style with a hand-held camera, and Nora lives with a large family with many grown-up children and grandchildren in an apartment in one of those typical skyscrapers where, of course, the elevators don’t work. Nora works two jobs to finance everything, and she seems to bear it all somewhat stoically. She is happy that the children are alive and healthy, she does not have any big dreams for herself, and now her main concern is how to make it easier for her son who is in prison.

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However, as much as Nora tries to keep everything under control and guide her children and grandchildren on the right path, it is not so easy because young people are young and they all dream of better and different lives. It is typical of today’s youth who observe the world through social networks, the Internet and see what the lives of the richer and those who managed to manage better and are not too hot for an ordinary job look like. Thus, her daughters will marginally get involved in prostitution, and Nora, who we see at the beginning is finally planning to fix her teeth for which she has been saving for years, when she realizes the legal costs for her son’s defense, she will again put others first. In the end, Herzi managed to make a film that is not the typical powerty porn exploiting poverty, misfortune and the impossibility of class stratification. “Bonne mere” is an emotional, humanistic, touching family drama about ordinary people with ordinary problems for their environment and a dedication to all mothers.