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Eyes of My Mother, The - Magnet Releasing Print E-mail
User Rating: / 4
Written by Richard Taylor   
Monday, 02 January 2017
Review of The Eyes of my Mother from Magnet Releasing on Severed Cinema


AKA: Oczy matki, Os Olhos de Minha Mãe, Глаза моей матери

Directed by: Nicolas Pesce
Written by: Nicolas Pesce
Produced by: Max Born, Jacob Wasserman, Schuyler Weiss
Cinematography by: Zach Kuperstein
Editing by: Nicolas Pesce, Connor Sullivan
Special Effects by: Janine Maloney, Cat Martin
Music by: Ariel Loh
Cast: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Olivia Bond, Diana Agostini, Joey Curtis Green, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong
Year: 2016
Country: USA
Language: English, Portuguese
Color: Black and White
Runtime: 1h 16min

Studio: Borderline Presents, Tandem Pictures
Distributor: Magnet Releasing

Much attention and hype has been focused on this atmospheric, moody and beautifully shot drama by director Nicolas Pesce. The hype killer can infect the masses faster than a Kardashian family home invasion, or a Donald Trump pro-Mexican rally. Fortunately, The Eyes of My Mother can fend off this bullshit frenzy and be enjoyed for what it is -- a beautifully shot, disturbing and eerie portrait of loneliness, isolation and the need to be wanted and depended upon.

I'm hearing lots of comparisons, from what I've read from other reviews, saying Francisca's character is reminiscent of a female Norman Bates, or similar to Asami in Audition. I personally feel she is more akin to say, Ed Gein, because she lives on an isolated farm and has a knowledge of dissecting human anatomy, thanks to her mother who worked in surgery for a stint. There is a strong young Anthony Perkins/Norman Bates vibe because the black and white color scheme of the film, but Francisca is hauntingly calm, and rarely shows a catharsis even when she kills, and even when she does it’s severely cold and calculated. Francisca shows more emotion and unstable social ability when threatened by individuals who want to leave her. She is consumed with loneliness and the desperation to have someone in her life.

The Eyes of My Mother is an offbeat, slow burning, yet highly intriguing film. The movie features a Portuguese family living on an isolated farm. They go through their daily routines in a rather quiet manner, and we focus on a young Francisca (Olivia Bond) and mother (Diana Agostini) whose interactions border on the butchery of the cows on their farm, and other daily routines/chores which fill their lives.  The mother has a background in surgery so she explains to the young Francisca about human anatomy, with a special mention on the eyes which she removes from a cow on the farm, something which will be an important plot aspect further along in the film.

One day Francisca is out on the front lawn playing when she is approached by a bizarre looking man named Charlie (Will Brill), who claims he just wants to talk to her mother. Once inside things escalate quickly, and in a disturbing manner as Charlie takes Francisca's mother to the bathroom. Francisca's father (Paul Nazak) returns home from work to make a gruesome discovery. Later we cut to Francisca and her father burying their mother, but what makes it all the more bizarre is the fact that they also have Charlie chained up in the barn and have not bothered to call the authorities. It seems as though the father has taken the law into his own hands, but has also let Francisca treat Charlie as her play toy. Despite the fact Charlie has brutally killed her mother, Francisca says to him "Why would I kill you, you’re my only friend."

We then spring years ahead to find Francisca as a young adult (Kika Magalhaes), still living on the farm. Charlie is still captive. Her father has now passed and she has grown tired of Charlie it seems. One of the most effective and chilling scenes in the movie has Francisca asking Charlie why he kills and he responds, "Because it feels so good!" A practice which Francisca soon puts into full effect herself.

The musical score in this is highly effective. The camera work is to be admired, especially those long distance shots -- they really bring a style to this that makes it a pleasure to watch. It’s shot in black and white so that also brings a whole new level of atmosphere to the picture, plus those Psycho references are to be expected. The title of the movie is brought to the surface later in the film as Francisca's desperation to find a companion reaches new heights of demented aggression. Despite Francisca's actions in the movie, her murdering not so innocent and innocent individuals, I never found myself hating her, I just felt deeply sorry for her even with the depths she goes to fill that dark void of loneliness within herself.

Definitely regarded as one of late 2016's hit sleeper dramas, with suspense and horror elements sprinkled in.
The Eyes of My Mother is a welcome entry to the best of 2016 roster. Its slow burning style, presence of Kika Magalhaes who steals the show as the lead, with an infatuation which is infectious, and originality which builds in volumes throughout.





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