“Why do you do it? It feels amazing”
How does a film humanize the inhuman? Of all the films to open at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a 76-minute black and white first feature with a vague plot description first caught my eye. The confidence from it came that it was also produced from one of the most innovative and game-changing production companies out there, Borderline Films. Festival hyped ensured and I was afraid hype would deceive me once more, but Nicolas Pesce’s The Eyes of My Mother is everything I dreamed of it being and more! Described best as a serene and empathetic portrait of a madwoman, not only is The Eyes of My Mother’s imagery alluring and aesthetically gorgeous, but so are its thematics. It is a hauntingly beautiful, viscerally terrifying and well-realized character portrait that substitutes it’s inner-misery for lyricism and catharsis. Best articulates the feelings of unquenchable temptation and those who yearn to feel alive and belong. A character piece of a damaged woman who’s state of mind was damaged beyond repair during a critical point of personality development as a child as she was exposed to things no child could properly process. Capturing this glorious ethereal intoxication and unhinged beauty, all the while proving an intimate and lyrical look at psychosis, processing inert tragedy and dealing with the atypical facts of life. It also feels directly inspired of slasher movies, specifically those of Tobe Hooper, but the filmmaker delvers a grounded approach to horror that feels almost like a testimonial, humanizing a monster. Delivers a message like “I may be bad, but please understand why.” Only a mother’s love could fix her, only a mother’s love can irreparably damage her. We understand her misery and it will break your heart as it broke mine, no matter how grim and warped her backstory is. Overall, The Eyes of My Mother is this year’s Under the Skin for me. This is not just some random claim, the visual cues and themes explored brings the film directly to mind. Be sure to catch this when it is released this November. [A-]
The Eyes of My Mother screened as part of the Fantasia Film Festival. More information about the festival can be found here.