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MADRE / MOTHER (2019, ŠPA) – 7/10

After a good three years of delay, I finally managed to find this film by the extraordinary Spanish filmmaker Rodrigo Sorogoyen (Que dios nos perdone, El Reino, Antidisturbios series). Before “Mother”, I even managed to watch “As bestas” filmed three years later, and while in that combination of thriller and drama we followed the story of two middle-aged Frenchmen who settled in rural Spain, here we have a 39-year-old Spanish woman who settled in France. And Elena (Marta Nieto) didn’t end up in a coastal, touristy French town without the devil. She decided to move there because she assumes that her then six-year-old son Ivan disappeared somewhere around ten years earlier.

The boy’s father and Elena’s ex-husband took the boy on a camping trip, and suddenly Ivan called his mother and said that he was alone on the beach. That she doesn’t know where dad is and that’s the last time this Spanish woman heard from her son. Even ten years later, Elena has not managed to recover from the tragedy and trauma, and she still lives in the hope that her son will appear somewhere. She works in a restaurant on the beach and goes around the beaches every day, people-watching and wondering if one of those teenagers could be her son. And she will fixate on 16-year-old Jean, a young Frenchman who is vacationing there with his family, and she really seems like a woman who has lost everything. This sense of disorientation is enhanced by the unusual camera that constantly seems to be spinning in a circle, circling the space.


And there will develop a really strange relationship between Elena and a young Frenchman who will be equally intrigued by this mysterious woman who, based on her age, could be his mother, who he doesn’t really know what she has been through. The situation is a bit confusing because the camera looks at Elena and Jean almost as if they are a couple, although it is clear to us that this is not the intention of either of them. And it all seems quite bizarre, all the more so because Elena is in a relationship with Joseb (Alex Brendemühl), one of those guys who seems to have a mission to save wounded souls like Elena’s. Unlike Sorogoyen’s other films, “Madre” is a much more melancholic film, almost an internal meditation on the feeling of guilt and pain that does not subside with age even though the man is already almost numb.

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He filmed Sorogoyen’s “Mother” based on the 2017 short film of the same name, which was also nominated for an Oscar in the short feature film category, in which Nieto also played a woman whose son has disappeared. The story has now been elaborated and extended by Sorogoyen and his constant screenwriting collaborator Isabel Pena, because the short film ends at the moment when the telephone connection between mother and son is interrupted. Although it begins as a thriller, “Majka” is more of a psychological drama, or a character study, and a film with which Sorogoyen seemed to want to put the viewer in Elena’s position. In the position of a woman who is completely lost, who has lost everything and who still does not want to stop believing that her son is alive and tries to convince herself that she will find him when, even though she must be aware that it will not happen.

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