Director (and writer): Sol Berruezo Pichon-Riviere
Cast: Agustina Milstein, Chloé Cherchyk, Camila Zolezzi, Matilde Creimer Chiabrando, Siumara Castillo, Vera Fogwill, Jennifer Moule, Shirley Giménez, Ana Maria Monti, Florencia Gonzalez Rogriguez
A veil of sadness lies over the oppressively hot summer days. Cleo dives into daydreams with her cousins, the girls share secret signs and rituals. Flowing gently, in impressionistic images, the empty space that the death of Cleo’s sister has left in the family is poetically encircled. – IMDB
After doing an entire season of Movies and Tea Podcast on Sofia Coppola, the description comparing it to The Virgin Suicides is essentially what sold this Argentinian drama as one of my top must-see picks for this year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema. Running at a short 65 minutes, Mamà Mamà Mamà is definitely comparable to Sofia Coppola’s films. For one, it has the slice of life storyline about a young girl Cleo dealing with the loss of her younger sister Erin in the days that follow under the companionship of her cousins and the care of her aunt while observing at a distance her mother’s pain from this ordeal. The family of girls and women all sit together through rituals and little games and everyday things while all coping in their own way. Grief is different for everyone and yet as Cleo goes through her own changes while dealing with it along with the neglect from her mother who is grieving immensely on her own with the comfort of her own sister, she stews in her memories of her sister by herself while watching and participating as her cousins all go through their own fun summer hobbies without a care in the world while sharing secret rituals and daydreams.
The cinematography and execution of this film is what truly gives it that arthouse spin but also adding in a tone with a dull palette of colors dimmed and subtle. There’s a gloom over each scene whether its the quiet times when all the girls are sitting together doing their own thing or when Cleo’s mother has her crying outbursts with the different triggers. And yet, one of the deeper bits is when Cleo falls into her little memories of her sister and even reliving the moments of her death as the camera is off-centred with moving parts of her sister’s lifeless arms or her mother’s body swimming across the screen. It all pieces together what happens. At the same time, the movie starts off with a recording that is a conversation with Erin and a few of these recordings happens as Erin’s asked about death and fear where it seems like Cleo dreams up Erin in an imaginary world by herself while putting those scenes in between her memories of her time with her sister in each other’s companionship. These moments might seem mundane and yet it adds a lot of depth to what Cleo is going through in her own mind and perhaps the loneliness she feels despite having her cousins around even if they all have their way of caring for her and offering her another type of companionship.
There’s something really special about Mamà Mamà Mamà where these few days spent with this cast consisting solely of the ladies and girls of this family. Everyone knows what’s going on and yet every cousin at their different age has their own understanding of it and whether its the aunt or Cleo’s mom or the mother’s mom all end up in this space as the adults help each other grieve while the children have their own way of transitioning through it and yet its a little heartbreaking are the little moments when Cleo calls out to her unresponsive mother who is the one person that truly will understand each other’s loss the most and yet its also surprisingly sweet to see her cousins, each of them in the first scenes doing their own things but each slowly bonding with Cleo in their own way and helping her forget a little about what’s going on. Everything might be through the eyes of Cleo in this story and yet every character has their own space and purpose as they build their own connection.
What might seem like a grim story about grieving about the loss of a sister actually turns out to be a rather bittersweet experience. Mother and Cleo both are in their own sorrow and yet, everyone staying with them helps breath life back into this space. As a directorial debut for a young female director Sol Berruezo Pichon-Riviere, it does definitely feel like a piece delivers a lot of depth for the story that its trying to tell and an impressive bit of writing and execution and leaves her a director to look out for.
Nicholas Tse is one of my personal favorite Hong Kong celebrities. While he has moved into the mainland China space to expand his diverse talents, he is one that has definitely grown since the start of his career in the last 90s until now. Being renowned for having multiple talents, his musical talent being the one that lead my path to cross with his career. He has been in TV series and as you will see, many movies which starts off being more the bad boy/high school student roles but eventually falling into more and more action crime thriller variety with roles that have more and more depth and set in a variety of time periods and backdrops, making his work almost as diverse as his talents and titles.
This list will be updated gradually as I catch up with the movies that I haven’t seen.
Senior Station Officer – Ho Wing-Sam – As The Lights Goes Out (2014)
Ah Si – Bodyguards and Assassins (2009)
Jack – Gen-X Cops (1998)
Man Yeung – The Viral Factor (2012)
Tong Fei – Beast Stalker (2008)
Detective Chan Chun – Invisible Target (2007)
Frank Cheng Siu-fung – New Police Story (2004)
Stone – My Schoolmate the Barbarian (2001)
Chiu – 2002 (2001)
Smokey – Half Cigarette (1999) Sword Hua – A Man Called Hero (1999) Knife/Ho Nam – Comic King (2001)
Tiger Wong – Dragon Tiger Gate (2006)
Maojie – Goddess of Mercy (2003) Cheung Wai-Kit – Moving Targets (2004) Tsao Man – Shaolin (2011)
Fred/Howard – Old Master Qi 2001 (2001)
Chan Ho-Nam – Young & Dangerous: The Prequel (1998)
Tyler – Time & Tide (2000)
McDull,the Alumni (2006)
Chang Ho Fung – Demi-Haunted (2002)
Cock Head – Enter the Phoenix (2004)
Can’t Remember or Haven’t Seen
Xiao Ming – Mirror (1999)
Shao Nu Dang (1999)
Ferrari – Da Ying Jia (2000)
Kit – 12 Nights (2000)
Fung – Tiramisu (2002)
Waiter – The Medallion (2003)
Wuhuan – The Promise (2005)
Tripitaka – A Chinese Tall Story (2005)
Nicholas – Rob-B-Hood (2006)
Bu Jing-Yun (voice) – Storm Rider Clash of the Evils (2008)
Heart – The Storm Warriors (2009)
Ah Wai – Hot Summer Days (2010)
Ghost Jr. – Stool Pigeon (2010)
Young Master – Treasure Inn (2011)
Nicholas Tse – The Midas Touch (2013)
Zhao Yongyuan – But Always (2014)
Ma Chi-kin – 12 Golden Ducks (2015)
Hu Yan Dazang – The Spirit of Swords (2015)
I Love That Crazy Little Thing (2016)
John Ma – Heartfall Arises (2016)
Gao Tian Ci – Cook Up a Storm (2017)
Lei Tao – Air Strike (2018)
Have you seen any films of Nicholas Tse? If so, which do you like?
Share them in the comments below.
A woman spends her days editing the film of an absent lover. – IMDB
Festival du Nouveau Cinema described this one as experimental and that is definitely the word that I would describe it as. The movie is obscure but there are bits that somewhat abstractly make sense. The story focuses around a girl played by our sole actress Sophie Desmarais as she edits a montage with things that her past or absent lover has left behind. Why is this person missing? No idea. Maybe its for travelling because of where the images come from. But its not important because the movie revolves around an undefined abstract Russian word and I suppose how her current state in life reflects it: solitude, loneliness, thought provoking.
La Version Nouvelle is extremely slow paced and voiced with interview montages and our actress only has voice over images and videos from travelogues. Cryptic and well meant to be deep and thought provoking. I saw this in a respectful way. I was confused on what it was trying to achieve but after a few days of reflecting and considering what the Q&A session from the director, I feel like a somewhat knoe what it was meant to do. The issue here is its abstract nature and its pacing and nothing really feels like it happens as we observe this girl.
While the story and the message could be executed better, there are qualities here. Maybe not enough yo redeem it as a whole but the framing of each shot is incredible with its depth as we watch this girl move around the house. Sometimes its at a distance and others she is off frame doing something else and oddly it works well. The travelogue images and snippets are also really beautifully done. While most of the time, I failed to have the depth that the girl feels towards it, they were visually stunning. At the same time, there was a lot of thought and detail in the sound design on the scenes and behind the snippets and images that elevated the scenes from the montage.
La Version Nouvelle is a hard one to talk about. On a technical level, its filmed really nicely but the movie is paced so slow and so abstract that it feels like everything is lost and might need to be paired with an ending Q&A to make sense of it all. Even then, my takeaway is the ambitious desire for the director to interpret a Russian word with such a uncertain definition is what makes it even harder to understand. If it means something different for everyone, the audience will be left feeling the same way and hence, I can only call this experimental. I am not at the level of deep thinking like the director so I don’t want to say its a bad film because its done well but there was a lack of enjoyment in its pacing and disjointed and emptiness for myself.