The Eyes of my Mother (2016).
Sometimes, the road to the most absolute desolation, passes through murder, torture and confinement. And at other times, when you start to see a movie, there are no great expectations, and suddenly, almost immediately, you find a lost jewel.
In The Eyes of My Mother (2016), Nicolas Pesce’s first film, violence does not impress by the use of blood but by its coldness, in the camera, in the actors, in the landscape: an icy nature that, however, in itself does not exclude the recognition in the other. The horror and the disturbance, in black and white (the most suitable media to express the light and the darkness of time) crosses the eyes of the spectators and the characters; and this horror tinged with the sadness of fado, the Portuguese songs that seem even more desolate in the immensities of the North American prairies (almost as in those typical Russian songs, where there is always a husband, a son or a mother, lost in the war, or winter, and that never returns), in the end, recreates an appearance of pain, the illusion of a self-contained picture that closes on itself and from which the viewer can not easily escape. Not every spectator, it is true; for as in some mysticisms, not all human beings will gain access to the soul, nor to the necessary state of mind, which requires the contemplation.
Francisca, the orphan, like her parents, seems to have chosen isolation, not because she prefers it, but because it is the only thing she knows. What she has learned from her mother, in this kind of universe of American Gothic, German expressionism and Portuguese melodrama, are not only the skills of a butcher or a surgeon on the battlefield; but also the compassion of all who must work with the flesh. For Francisca’s eyes there is no evil; there are only accidents and chances, and there is also no joy in revenge, not even in crime. Just as you have to sew an open wound, they are only things that sometimes, sometimes a lifetime, must be done. And in this fatalism (fado or destiny in Portuguese), which is within the same beings and not outside, it is not the insensitivity towards hurt and pain, neither its frozen glance, but its intense desire not to be alone, which in the end will condemn Francisca to an implacable solitude, and to a new exile: not from the land on the other side of the ocean, like that of her mother, but of all humanity.