This is not a film you will enjoy, but you may relate. The main character Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a film director whose life is falling apart around her. Her relationship with her significant other is over, the film she is directing is being ruined by an actor (John Turturro) who can’t remember his lines, and to top it off her mother is in the hospital dying. Apparently, the film is autobiographical as Nanni Moretti, the writer/director and actor playing the director’s brother Giovanni, lost his mother while shooting his last film. Mia Madre balances the quiet drama of watching the mother go downhill with the silly comedy of Turturro’s Barry Huggins, who has a rich fantasy life including having worked for Kubrick and dreaming that Kevin Spacey is trying to kill him. Unfortunately, the wacky actor from America really steals the show.
If you’ve lost a parent, the hospital scenes may seem familiar, though not particularly insightful. Margherita, Giovanni, and later her daughter Livia go through the motions rather stoicly and their relationships with one another are mostly unexamined. Perhaps this is how Moretti’s family acted, but it is very undramatic and really kind of boring. It is only when Turturro comes back that the film comes to life. There are several scenes that hint at some introspection on Margherita’s part, but the film begs for an epiphany or some shift in her character. No need to run out and see this one. Wait for Netflix if you’re into very quiet dramas with a dash of comedy.