It’s difficult for an expressionistic Italian film about a director experiencing an existential crisis to not evoke 8½ to some extent, but Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre is its own lovely meditation on art and life. Shooting a heavy drama about striking factory workers, director Margherita (Margherita Buy) is on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to the impending death of her hospitalized mother, Ada, (Giulia Lazzarini) and having to work with high-maintenance American movie star Barry (John Turturro, speaking Italian in what feels like a Stanley Tucci role), and the way those impact her already frazzled personal life. Unlike the feisty dying mother played by beloved character actress Margo Martindale in The Hollars this week, Ada’s decline is proving to be a much messier and undignified process, and Mia Madre has a disjointed, occasionally free-associative rhythm and tone that matches Margherita’s own emotional state. It’s worth noting that there’s neither sex nor violence, and while the film has received the equivalent of a PG rating in most of the rest of the world — and the G equivalent in its native Italy — our MPAA has rated Mia Madre R because of eight utterances of swear words, six of which are in Italian. But kids can still get into Suicide Squad, so the system works.
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