Nanni Moretti may not be everybody's cup of tea, but his relevance cannot be denied. Very few artists has been so constantly present, so honestly faithful to themselves, and at the same time so careful in portraying the evolution of Italian society in the last decades. You put together the twelve movies Moretti has done in his forty years of activity and you get a perfect course in history of this country. It is not strange, then, that his latest movie looks like an attempt to portray confusion and uncertainty. As almost always, the story is based on personal experience from Moretti. In the past he has made movies about growing up and getting older (Caro Diario), movies about having a son (Aprile), and now he is sharing with the audience his reflections about the recent loss of his mother, frequently mentioned – and, once, even featured – in his works. The story is about a director trying to complete a movie set in the contemporary scenario of economic crisis, focused on the loss of jobs in an Italian factory after the purchase of the compound from a USA investor. But the director cannot concentrate on the movie, as her old mother is dying in a hospital. There is a big difference between the main story (the death of the mother), which is told in a solemn and painfully slow way, and the story in the story (the script of the director's movie), whose lines and situations are formulaic, simple to the edge of stupidity ("Shit", as John Turturro says honestly in a moment of rage). Losing your mother is something that everybody's know is coming, sooner or later, but this doesn't mean you can be prepared: and in front of this terribly huge moment, everything else seems silly and preposterous. The overall acting effort is really something to appreciate: Margherita Buy provides a complex, troubled counterpart for Moretti, who has limited himself to a supporting – yet important – role. John Turturro is the bright spot of the story: most of the situations where he is involved are really funny (neurotic Turturro and anxious Margherita Buy are a comedy duo with potential). Giulia Lazzarini portrays the sick mother, her energies slowly fading, with sensibility and measure: a really moving performance. She is by far the emotional centerpiece of the whole movie: in a story where everybody else seems willing to quit everything (relationships, day jobs, movie careers) for lack of meaning, the frail and weakened character of the mother, still willing to teach Latin to his niece until her very last moment and breath, actually teaches through the deep relationships she has with her family, and even with her former students, the surprising strength of human boundaries and love.
Margherita, a director in the middle of an existential crisis, has to deal with the inevitable and still unacceptable loss of her mother.
February 12, 2021