The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

the-eyes-of-my-motherA young woman is thought to handle dead bodies and see them as normal as well as operating on them.   After her mother is killed in their house, she slowly unravels and assumes things to be normal as she learns to live her new life. Written and directed by Nicolas Pesce, the entirety of the film revolves around one young woman and her descent into possible madness as she adapts to her surroundings from childhood and handles death in a particular manner into adulthood and life changes.  The lead character Pesce builds here is a disturbed young woman who does not know any better.  The way she goes through life, constantly referring to her death mother and trying to make her proud while doing things that most would consider twisted or wrong.

His direction gives the story an almost completely even tone which is well represented in the black and white images which give a specific ambiance and the choice of using English and Portuguese language in the film to represent the lead’s relationships with different people and situation.  This gives the film an interesting personality and a vibe that is not often seen.  The film has a unique take on loneliness and adapting to one’s surroundings and changes. Cast in this lead of Francisca as a child is Olivia Bond who does well with the part of this growing girl who has a dark curiosity about life, death, and the body.  As adult Francisca, Kika Magalhaes gives a layered, mysterious, and nuanced performance.  She carries most of the film with other much smaller characters coming and going without much screen time compared to her.

Some of these smaller characters do stand out such as Francisca’s mother played by Diana Agostini who shows a quiet strength and softness while teaching her child about eyeballs and how cows are similar to humans while cutting a cow’s eyeball out of its head.  Also needing to be noted is Will Brill as Charlie who will not be spoiled for those wanting to see the film, however it can be said that his performance has an interesting arc and a wide array of emotions which he handles with talent. Creating the look of the film is created by the black and white look that feels desolate in parts and lush in others and by the cinematography by Zach Kuperstein who frames the scenes and characters much like old school photography and would.

This is also helped in terms of look by impeccable art direction by Caroline Keenan Russell and costumes design by Whitney Anne Adams, both of these create a cohesive look and give the film a somewhat timeless or period less style as they are from a not clearly identified period yet feel familiar and comfortable.  These paired with the music by Ariel Loh, create a whole that has a specific look, sound, and feel. The effects are also well done with some gruesome wounds, new and healing, done by Janine Maloney and Cat Martin.  In the film’s calm darkness and fairly subdued nastiness (if such a thing is possible), these effects add some surprise and almost dread.

However, the horror of this film does not come from these specifically but from the lead and her closeness with death and pain and how she seems to be absolutely ok with it all. The Eyes of My Mother is beautiful exploration of how a person’s view of life, death, pain, and normalcy can be warped from a young age and the slow loss of connection to the real world by being cut off from it and building her own world with her own values and family.  This film is emotional while not being fully in your face about it and it is oddly touching.