When a young girl faces a gruesome tragedy, it changes her in in disturbing ways, shaping her adult life into something grotesque. Or maybe she would have been that way regardless. It’s not really clear.
Franicisca’s (Kika Magalhaes) mother was an eye surgeon, imparting her young daughter with both her knowledge and an unflinching view of death and the human body. These, and a horrific act she witnesses form her adult life, leading her down a path of macabre darkness.
Death, torture, sadism – all are on lovely monochromatic display in The Eyes of My Mother. If keeping mangled human beings as pets sounds more like something out of a Human Centipede schlock fest than something you’d actually like to watch, then stay far away from this one. On second thought, there’s not really much reason to get up close to The Eyes of My Mother at all, except perhaps as an exercise in effective mood setting. There the film excels. Magalhaes exudes a creepiness from the very depths of her soul, even if she’s simply giving a friendly looking smile. The black and white film will make your skin crawl even if you don’t know exactly why. It’s technically a masterpiece in some ways, but not one designed to be enjoyed, or even appreciated by any reasonable person.
There is scant motivation, or even exploration into the psyche and driving force of our protagonist. She’s less fascinating then one dimensionally disturbing. There’s nothing to root for, and we don’t even feel much for most of her victims due to the fact that we don’t even know much about them. The ending is ambiguous and anticlimactic at best, giving no real satisfaction or context to what has gone before, other than just being an end to it.
What could have been a highly effective psychological experience is weakened and dulled by being nothing but a macabre display of some horrible acts, interspersed with scenes that celebrate the grotesque and disturbed. While I can appreciate the technical elements that went into this one, it’s more like a tech demo than anything – bereft of any reason to experience it. Coupled with a story more complex, it could have been something. Without, it’s nothing, pretending to be something and there’s not much more to it than that.
I won’t write off a movie simply because it goes dark places, so long as it has some sort of reason for going there, some sort of redemptive qualities at all, or even if it’s at least interesting and entertaining. Sorry The Eyes of My Mother – I know you tried.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Two out of five hats
The Eyes of My Mother expands to DC area theaters December 2