Marghe and Her Mother: An Overview of Busan

Marghe and Her Mother: An Overview of Busan Marghe and Her Mother: An Overview of Busan
A young Italian single mother is going through hard times
SOURCE: Busan International Film Festival
Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Italy, United Kingdom. 2019. 101 minutes

A single mother with a six-year-old daughter is struggling with both financial and romantic trotting in Mohsen Makhmalbaf's first film set in Italy. With its layers of symbolism and a certain naivety of storytelling, this is a film that seems much more rooted in the past than it is today. The influence of Italian neorealism is evident throughout the picture, as is the touch of the French New Wave, a strange and not always successful tonal blend of manic artificiality and authenticity.

The film, which has no scores and hesitant editing and dialogue, seems to be full of vacancies

Makhmalbaf's name should ensure further interest in the festival - films will be shown in Busan after its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Whether Marghe and her mother gather enough momentum to break out of the festival circle is less certain. It's an image that's hard to find, its key characters are disappointingly capricious and low, and as such can pose some marketing challenge.

Claudia (Ylenia Galtieri) has suffered misery after the severance of her relationship with her boyfriend Guiseppe. His premature six-year-old daughter, Marghe (Margherita Pantaleo), was as zealous for Guiseppe as her mother — she later tells the other children that she was in love with him — and melodramatically renounces all her evils together in the hope that she will return to them. The most eloquent part of this scene is Marghe's reversal of the roles, which shows that the mother is somewhat behind her daughter in terms of emotional maturity.

Claudia and her volatile frenemy Guilia (Raffaella Gallo) are constantly looking for easy ways to make a quick bang. That's why they're waiting on the road to be received by a director and producer who claims to take them to the stage. The men, Allessandro (Paolo C. Santeramo) and Alberto (Danilo Acinapura), later admit that the film is a fiction and a tool to "be your friends". Maybe out of naivety, maybe because there is nothing better to offer, the two girls end up in a relationship.

Meanwhile, Marghe finds herself a packed neighbor who runs what appears to be an ardently Catholic charity day care service. Children are asked to practice their confessions and give the taste of eternally cursed torment with the help of candle flames. Marghe's rebellious spirit refuses to quarrel.

The film, which has virtually no scores and no hesitations in editing and dialogue, seems to be full of empty spaces; the slightest gap between the stories of Marghe and Claudia. The mother leaves her child behind to start the wrongly prescribed dog abduction scheme. In general, it is a curious film that has such a deeply empathetic effect on the mild situation of families, while romanticizing the same poverty in scenes where the characters bathe together in an upturned barrel. It understands the frivolity of despair, but also gently mocks its central characters. It's awkward to watch at times.

Production company: Makhmalbafi Film House, RAI Cinema
Screenwriter: Marziyeh Meshkiny, Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Music: Gruppo Folk Verbicaro Nel Core
Starring: Ylenia Galtieri, Margherita Pantaleo, Raffaella Gallo, Paolo C. Santeramo, Danilo Acinapura
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