“It´s not easy to be authentic. The closer woman is to her image of herself, the more authentic she is.”
TODO SOBRE MI MADRE
Everything was written on the Almodovar´s cult movie. There is one thing I am m sure about- either you love Almodrama or you hate it. It doesn´t have to be an instant crush- sometimes it takes some time to get there. I´ve put some effort alter the first vague impression on Habla Con Ella and it was worth it.
Almodovar with his specific exagerration serves us a hardly-probable history wrapped up with a thick layer of absurd, with a bit of magical realism and somehow it works. Like in the majority of his films, the plot of Todo Sobre Mi Madre becomes an excuse for breaking the subtle relations in between woman down. We have here an adorable transsexualist Agrado, young pregnant social worker, furious drug addicted young actress and the star of the play Sidecar Named Desire, which has marked main character´s life.
Finaly, we have Manuela – the mother. She´s experienced a tragedy and by going to Barcelona, she decides to finally face it. For her, the travel is inevitable- there she can find the father of her dead son, who never knew about his existence.
Manuela doesn´t accuse anyone, doesn´t try to make anyone feel guilty; proud and steadfast, she sneaks into the world of her former lover and builds up the relationships with the people he used to be close to- initially, to find him. Little by little, as the bonds are tightening, the aim dissolves.
The essence of Almodovar’s view on mother and woman in general is captured in Agrado´s monologue (actually, strongly inspired by the real event).
It´s not easy to be authentic- he says- The closer woman is to her image of herself, the more authentic she is.
We rarely take off the masks, however, there are some roles that come straight from the heart- like the role of mother. Manuela is the absolute one, at first following the transplanted heart of her son, then his unfinished story. She´s able to instantly abandon her current life to finish the previous chapter.
the lenient mother
If you feel bad, if you’re sad, look for a river and sit down on the bank. Say it as if you were throwing it to the river. The water will carry it all away. The grief, the sadness, all the bad stuff…into the river.
These are the words said by the father to his son at one of the first sequences of the main character´s childhood retrospection. The advice will follow him in the future years, persistently repeated by his mother.
The opening shot-a flowing river- already suggests the laid back tempo of Aristarian’s movie. The river motive runs through the entire picture and becomes a framing device for the process of reconstructing the memories. The spectacor slowly delves into the life of Joao, starting with the happy childhood filled with music, through the youth in the centre of exciting 60s Buenos Aires.
Roma– the name of main character´s mother and at the same time the title of his biography- is the key personage, determining her son´s choices and fueling his creativity. Assertive but gentle, lifewise, she teaches his son the resistance to adversities of fate and living in accordance with his own nature. Staying at the second plan for most of the time, she speaks exactly as much as she needs to, and there, in her simple words , lay the universal truths, about which we often forget in everyday rush. In oposittion to other´s advices she lets him take the girls home and chase his dreams of being a writer She allows her son to make the bad decisions, aware of the upcoming consequences, but assuming that this is the only way to learn.
the fighting mother
Mommy is the movie, which stays with you for long thanks to the rich blossoming characters, as well as the breathaking visual side. Dolan mastered here his music video- like sequences and the selection of music- Dido’s or Celine Dion’s evergreeens take on new significance here. But what stays the longest in the memory is the relationship of mother and son- painfully strong, ressembling the addiction, by times surging with erotism.
The 4×4 format perfectly reflects a sultry ambiance in the triangle Steve-Diana-Kyla and moreover, the constant akwardness that the teeenager suffering with ADHD has to face in the world of rigid rules.
As in J’ai Tue ma Mere Dolan with his teenage inexorability utterly gives an account to his mother, Mommy is a peculiar statement of submission. Diana is way far from the ideal- excentric at times, vulgar, drinking hidden wine in the laundry room- but her independence and power, with which she fights with the controversial law act, with the system and often even with her own son, blows the spectactor’s mind.
the toxic mother
The young marriage has been roughly cheated- the developer which was taking care of their unfinished apartament disappears, leaving them with a mortgage to pay off. The couple, together with children, is forced to move into the Bartek´s mother appartament. That´s when the real drama starts slowly accumulating. In the narrow oppressive relation in between the son, his wife and the mother there is no space for the indulgence. The spiral of mutual reproaches and anger initiates the decisions leading to tragic consequences.
The polish predisposition for martyrology is holding strong, in this case, however, the real-events based history defends itself fully, leaving a splinter in the eye.
The daughter in law, Beata, becomes a scapegoat. She is living off the mother- that´s why she is constantly on a thin ice, conscious of the risk of ending up on the street.
Mother, a toxic elderly woman, makes the spectactor feel ambivalent- at one hand she is obviously a tyrant, taking advantage of the whole situation giving her a chance to release her hidden frustrations, at the other, she supports financially the son’s family, feeds them and provides them a shelter. Can she be that bad then? The woman glorifies the sissy Bartek, who earns money and devaluates the role of Beata, which gradually immerses into deep depression. However, she helps, sacryfing her privacy and peace, which she could expect after raising her own children. At the same time, her violence-emanating monologues make the audience feel repulsive. Masterfully created by Ewa Wencel, Teresa drips the venom, slowly killing herself and the others. Her relation with Bartek hits the the sensitive point, as it mirrors the crisis of mascunility in modern times.
GAS, FOOD LODGING
the adamant mother
90s, when the histories were soaking slowly, stripped of unnecessary realism. In the American movies teenagers were dreaming, falling in love, life-and-death, making love with clothes on and children were building fortresses on the trees. I remember the warm lazy scenes running through the screen after Sunday lunch: My Girlfiend, Fried Green Tomatoes, Forrest Gump, the King’s adaptations. Maybe it’s only the childhood sentiment; either way, Gas, Food Lodging brought these memories back.
New Mexico, a single mother raising two teenage daughters, manifesting their rebellion in two opposite ways- the older, giving away her body to anyone interested, the younger- immersing in the parallel world filled with old movies. In sleepy Larame not much happens. Nora lives with her daughters in a camper; trying hard to make the ends meet, she is spending all days working. She tries to protect them against taking the same decisions that determined her youth, however, not by all means.
Nora refuses to take the Mother Theresa’s role and forgive everything. She treats her daughters as adults and teaches them how to be responsible for their actions- often, at the expense of mother-daughter relationship. She has her weak point- she melts surrounded by men. Trudi and Shade do too. Nora’s mistake lies in belief that she can create the full image of herself, hiding the dirty parts. The problem is, daughters are smarter than she thinks.