“Mama, what are you thinking about?” “Tomorrow.”
Mia Madre was the winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes in 2015. Ecumenical Juries often focus on finding stories of the human condition that speak to the spiritual needs that are common to us all. That is certainly the case with Mia Madre.
Margherita (Margherita Buy) is an Italian film director trying to make a film with American actor Barry Huggins (John Turturro) who seems to be nothing but problems. At the same time her mother’s health is steadily slipping away and her daughter is becoming increasingly distant. The situations lead to both humor and pathos that become interwoven.
For Margherita, this all represents a loss of control. Although as director of her film she is titularly in control, Huggins’s style and shortcomings as an actor is creating chaos in the production. And of course the dying process with her mother is something totally out of her control. As she moves between the worlds of the movie set and the sickroom she struggles to maintain balance.
There is the wisdom of this film. Much of our lives we struggle to maintain the balance of control without realizing that, like Margherita’s work as a film director, control is often only an illusion we have constructed. In reality there are so many forces that push us and pull us in different directions that we are constantly in danger of losing the balance of our lives. Often it is in the letting loose of control that allows grace to come into our lives. That is clearly the case with the storyline involving Margherita and her mother. Being able to let go is often the first step in discovering something more rewarding than feeling in control. It is somewhat ironic that giving up control may provide strength and power that others bring to us in our weakness. So it is with Margherita and her juggling act of professional and personal life. In there will be sadness, but also there will be great reward.
Photos courtesy of Music Box Films