Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there, and heres one from the to watch pile…
Goodnight Mommy aka Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014)
Film: This is one of those films that I heard a lot about but never thought I’d see. Several of the podcasts I listen to talked it up and I have read many reviews that admired it too, but what do you know; the good people at Áccent Film here in Australia have released it!
This is an Austrian film, written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz so it is performed in German with subtitles, but in this case, if you don’t like subtitled movies, it is hardly intrusive as the film is not dialogue heavy: actions certainly speak louder than words in this case.
Goodnight Mommy tells the tale of young twin boys Elias and Lukas (played by Lukas and Elias Schwarz), who have been moved from Vienna to the country by their newly separated mother (Susanne Wuest), whom soon after decides to have some plastic surgery done on her face.
We, the viewer, never see mother before the operation, but the boys have a firm belief that she is not the same woman, and in actual fact another person has replaced her under the guise of having a facelift as her entire attitude towards the boys has completely changed: she is far more aggressive, and refuses to even acknowledge one of the boys over a previous transgression.
So the boys have to decide if this is their mother, and if not, what should they do about it…
The first is how compelling the story is. The directors manage to block out their scenes really well, and you start to notice clever ways the story is being told visually, with the obscuring if the mothers identity, and how elements of backstory are told not through flashbacks or exposition, but through such mundane incidental things like photo albums and a game of Celebrity Head (you know, you put a name on someone’s head and they have to get what the thing or person is).
The second is the location. This amazingly beautiful modern country house that sits between the woods and a cornfield has this tangible personality of its own, and again, the direction and photography is bright and easy to absorb, which is juxtaposed nicely with the dark places the story takes us.
If I am to take this film to task at all, it’s with the acting. Wuest is amazing, and it is a difficult role for her as her face is obscured for most of the film, and as an actress, your face is your label,miso keeping it covered is a brave and admirable move. Unfortunately the twins, who get the most screen time, occasionally seem like they are waiting for direction. This isn’t a completely fair criticism though, as the nuances needed for their characters would be difficult for an experienced actor let alone boys who were maybe 11 or 12 years old.
Sometimes those slow burn, subtle films move me more than an action filled gorefest, and this is one. Beautifully shot and shocking, and the shock continues later when you think about the things that took place during the film… And what they REALLY mean.
Format: This is thevAustralian bluray release of Goodnight Mommy and it runs for approximately 99 minutes and is presented in a perfectly transferred 2.35:1 image with a matching DTS-HD 5.1 audio.
Extras: The disc opens with trailers for The Conspiracy, Little Accidents, I’ll Follow You Down and Static. Other than the trailer for THIS film, that’s it!
WISIA: It’s a great movie, for sure, but like a magician’s trick, once you know the secret, it loses its power. I probably will watch it once more to see if there is any nuances of the performances I may have missed out on.