random review: The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

 

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I’ve never fully trusted people. And, over the past year, I’ve learned to trust the ones around me a lot less.  It’s why it’s now so hard to surprise me unless you do something nice.

It’s also why a key early scene of Nicolas Pesce‘s The Eyes of My Mother holds little suspense but much discomfort for me. A young girl Francisca (Olivia Bond, later Kika Magalhaes) is present at the murder of her mother (Diane Agostini), a former eye-surgeon from Portugal. When she asks her killer Charlie (Will Brill) “Why us?”, he replies, “You let me in.”

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From that moment, my viewing experience became bleak, heartbreaking, spine-chilling and nauseating. It’s unpredictable. Boy, is it unpredictable. There’s gore, but you hear it more than you see it (props to the foley artist). Characters do the most creatively despicable things. The traditional Portuguese songs and score are by equal turns haunting and melodramatic.

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But it’s all somehow restrained. Filmed in black and white, and with no shortage of long takes and long, wide master shots, it’s a striking, nightmarish portrayal of grief, isolation and loneliness.

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That said, if you try to avoid sliced cow eyeballs or unreliable narrators, this isn’t the movie for you. The monochrome hides much of the gore we do see, and in doing so positions this as a neo-American gothic that I still can’t wrestle from the nervously creepy parts of my mind. In other words, it’s not a film I’ll have a chance of forgetting any time soon.

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I went in, er, blind (pun not intended), but at the risk of spoiling this for the two people who probably read this blog, I’d maybe postpone seeing this film if you’ve got a sore throat. Trust me.

4.7/5

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