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Cannes Film Festival 2015

Moving and funny, Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre brings Italian touch to Cannes

Nanni Moretti's Mia Madre is a contender for the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival 2015
Nanni Moretti's Mia Madre is a contender for the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival 2015 Le Pacte

You hear a lot of Italian spoken in Cannes this year, perhaps more than usual as films directed by Matteo Garrone, Nanni Moretti and Paolo Sorrentino are in the main competition, all of whom have previously shown at the film festival.

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You hear a lot of Italian spoken in Cannes this year, perhaps more than usual as films directed by Matteo Garrone, Nanni Moretti, and Paolo Sorrentino are in the main competition, all of them returnees.

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Nanni Moretti's film, Mia Madre (My Mother) recalls his 2001 film The Son's Room.

In this film, he plays the son, Giovanni.

The new film bears the Moretti hallmarks. It's moving because of the situation and handling of family ties and human imperfection and funny because of US actor's John Turturro's imagination and skill.

“I took Turturro because of his unrealistic acting style,” Moretti told RFI at Cannes. “I like that a lot. He always adds something crazy to his roles. He improvises a lot and Margherita Buy is the kind of actress who can follow-up. “

Margherita Buy plays the main character Margherita, a film director who comes to term with her mother's death while on a shoot which makes her somewhat neurotic.

The place of women in cinema is in focus at Cannes this year.

Moretti seems to agree it’s time to take stock.

“From when I began working on the film I thought it would be a more interesting film if the main character were an interesting woman director,” he says. “We are used to female characters who care for others, who can face up to all sorts of hardships. Margherita is a different kind of character, who isn’t so emotionally capable. Margherita is out-of-synch and feels inadequate.”

Moretti's film-within-a-film approach, couched in realism, allows plenty of space for multiple themes.

The choice of hanging on or letting go is one of them. Hanging on to a job, or letting it go, hanging on to habits, to life, even to learning Latin.

The Italian director tickles our minds with this mise-en-abyme, especially with Margherita's insistence that the actor play themselves at the same time as they play a character.

Margherita is a much lighter being at the end of the film than the beginning.

So a certain Italian view permeates Cannes this year but with an Anglophone touch, as in Turturro's case in Mia Madre, Michael Caine in Sorrentino’s Youth and John C Reilly and Toby Jones in Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales.

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