As commendable as it is that Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre revolves around a female director who is juggling both director problems and regular life problems, the film never really hits its stride. In the midst of shooting her film, Margherita (Margherita Buy) must deal with a diva actor who can’t remember his lines (John Turturro) and her denial about her mother’s worsening illness.
Despite a few wonderful moments, like Margherita’s advice to actors that even she doesn’t understand — “You have to stand next to your character.” — and the fact that her crew never question her insane logic because she’s the director and it’s their job to follow her lead, there’s not much substance here. Moretti shows up in yet another sweater as Margherita’s down-to-earth brother who gives her emotional support and talks sense. Unfortunately, the film never hits the emotional highs or lows it’s aiming for, and the comedy is too sedate to be enough to carry the film: it’s more likely to induce silent chuckles than laughs.
Mia Madre or My Mother screens in the Special Presentations section of TIFF on Sun. Sept. 13 at 9:45 p.m. at TIFF Bell Lightbox and Mon. Sept. 14 at 9 a.m. at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For tickets and details, visit the TIFF website here.