The fine line between balancing one’s family and professional life cuts a deep groove in Mia Madre (My Mother), an incisive dramedy co-written and directed by Nanni Moretti.
Margherita (Margherita Buy) is an earnest but nit-picking middle-aged movie director who has turned into a frustrated caregiver on set. Her charge is Italophile actor Barry Huggins (John Turturro), irritatingly boisterous, emotionally eruptive and forgetful of his character’s dialog. At home, Margherita’s aging mother, Ada (Giulia Lazzarini), a long retired and beloved Latin teacher, is dying in hospital. Over the course of the film, the director’s daily narrative on one front seeps into the other, both compartments eased by her brother’s (Moretti) support and visits from her teenage daughter Livia (Beatrice Mancini).
What initially plays out as a chaotic rush in the life of the protagonist – a woman who is driven by Saturnine rules, demand for perfection and proclivity to criticize – becomes a revelation of sizable depth. Margherita’s hallmark piece of advice to her actors is, “You play the character, but you have to stand next to the character,” suggesting they project their true selves despite their playing a role. When asked to explain the meaning of this seeming contradiction, she can’t. Could delving more deeply in the life experience of her mother – Lunar softness and even as her health ultimately fails – hold the key? Hint: The movie’s title is Mia Madre.
Archetype: Boss. Daughter. Mother.
Astrology Archetype: ☽ ♄ (Moon, Saturn)