Friday, November 04, 2016
The Eyes Of My Mother (2016)
DIRECTOR: Nicolas Pesce
WRITER: Nicolas Pesce
When Francisca was a young girl, she and her mother are left alone in their secluded farmhouse while her father is out. A man comes onto their property, into their home, and brutally murders her mother. Her father returns home and captures the murderer. Keeping him prisoner for decades, as Francisca grows up and attached to him, she is able to live out her darkest desires and impulses but what happens when he's gone? Will her need for company bring her to take more lives?
Going into The Eyes Of My Mother, I was well aware of the film for most of 2016. I remember hearing the positive word of mouth out of Sundance Film Festival back in January. The movie then played at various other film festivals from Fantastic Fest to AFI Fest and London Film Festival where word of mouth was still incredibly positive from horror fans and all the critics. I was extremely excited to see it but just didn't get a chance to watch it last year.
The Eyes Of My Mother is not going to be a movie for everyone. I can say that with the utmost certainty. This is a movie that I believe will divide audiences. Anyone that goes into this expecting a gorefest will be sorely disappointed with the outcome. All of those wanting a film that moves along at a brisk pace will be left bored by the movies slow burn approach. This is a movie that takes its sweet time in revealing our main characters dark nature.
The movie begins on a deserted stretch of dirt road. We are inside a truck cabin and driving through a black and white landscape. As we come over a hill, we see in the distance, a young woman who is walking in the middle of the road, chains dragging and she suddenly collapses on the road. We then cut back to sometime in the past. The movie doesn't really explain things right away, but we are aware that things will start to turn dark in the very near future.
It doesn't take long for the movie to head into some incredibly dark territory. We are introduced to our mother character and a little girl who will later become the primary focus. The scene where a stranger comes onto the property and kills her mother is a very unnerving moment. While the film is never gratuitous in its display of violence, the director was able to keep me on edge during this scene. The movie, for the most part, is filled with dread yet never is jump out of your seat scary.
What I found with The Eyes Of My Mother is that this felt like a character piece. This was a story about a girl who has suffered great tragedy and lost the only two people she has ever known in two very different ways. All she wants is attention and not to be alone. While watching the film, I felt this was almost like a companion piece or in the same vein as Lucky McKee's May. They both deal with women who are lonely or outcasts in some form, who take that want of being accepted and loved to extremely dark places.
The direction from Nicolas Pesce is outstanding. Visually, the movie is gorgeous to witness. The choice to do this in black and white also adds something to his vision. On a technical level, this movie has some stunning cinematography. I found myself more often than not being utterly mesmerised by the way that this film was set up. The opening scenes with the overhead angles, the gorgeous floating shots over the landscapes. This movie always has a dream-like quality to them. I may be the only one who took the cinematography in this way.
The acting is also fantastic. Kika Magalhaes who plays Francisca goes to some dark places in this role, and I was buying every single second of her performance. She was almost childlike in a lot of her scenes. Even when she was killing or torturing people, I felt sorry for her character. While she is essentially the villain, I thought the way they built up her role and the tragedies she has suffered in her past made me feel sad for the character.
Lastly, if I have anything really negative to say about The Eyes Of My Mother, I think my biggest issues that I had with the movie fall back on the pacing. It only runs for a very short hour and sixteen minutes, but at times I felt like the story lagged in certain parts. Had the film been fifteen minutes longer I would've loved to see the story delve more into Francisca and her turn from a child into what is essentially an evil monster. I could've used more of the madness.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A cow's severed head is seen on a table.
- An unconscious man is seen being dragged into a shed.
- A little girl stitches up a man's wound.
- Blood is seen being cleaned off the floor.
- Body parts of a woman are shown being put into a fridge.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed.
- Someone's arm is being sawn off.
- A cow's eyeball is seen being cut in half.
- A woman has her eyes sown shot.
- A woman is shot offscreen.
- A woman is stabbed in the back.
- A man is shown to be hammering in a woman's head in the bathtub.
The Eyes Of My Mother is an incredibly slow-burn character piece. The movie is dark, twisted, and at times, I found it rather depressing. The film has a solid performance by Kika Magalhaes who I think deserves some awards recognition and the movie is gorgeous to watch. The movie isn't perfect though and has a few pacing issues that are felt. I would've also loved to see them delve deeper into the psychology of our main character. However, this is a film that deserves to be seen.