Film Review: The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother is a striking directorial debut from Nicolas Pesce. The brooding gothic picture both ensnares and alarms.

Francisca is a young girl growing up on an isolated farm with her parents. Her mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, teaches young Francisca about anatomy as they tend to their cattle. When visitor arrives, the course of Francisca’s life will change…

Filmed in black and white and populated with sparse dialogue, The Eyes of My Mother is arresting in its look and tone. Written and directed by Nicolas Pesce, the film matches its striking visuals with a unorthodox narrative. It is unclear where exactly the film will go, but an air of foreboding is palpable.

The Eyes of My Mother is separated into three acts; the first of which takes place when Francisca is a child. This facilitates activity which occurs in the remaining two acts. In one sense, the film focuses on the protagonist at important stages of her growth. There is pivotal moment in her childhood, her coming of age, and her yearning of family. Yet these events, and indeed the film overall, have a disturbing dynamic.

The beauty of Pesce’s film is that it does not reveal too much. Rather than spoon-feed viewers, Pesce drops hints without ever overtly confirming. The result of these is an intriguing examination of a character. Francisca is a protagonist who elicits both sympathy and horror. The Eyes of My Mother is a better film for letting viewers draw their own conclusions.

Cinematography in the film is pivotal in setting the tone. This is ably assisted by the soundtrack. Kiki Magalhaeys is brilliant as Francisca, playing the role with an indispensable ambiguity. She plays a protagonist that is intriguing amongst the horror that takes place. The Eyes of My Mother lingers in the mind long after the credits have rolled.

The Eyes of My Mother is in cinemas from 24th March 2017.