There’s never a good time to lose a parent, but Nanni Moretti has transformed the toxic experience of shooting ‘We Have a Pope’ during his mum’s terminal illness into this potent serio-comic examination of facing up to the inevitable.
Margherita Buy excels as the noted socially-conscious filmmaker having a nightmare on her latest production with a clearly unhinged American lead (John Turturro, in full-on batshit mode). But her simmering frustration is merely an echo of the larger picture, where – unlike her calm and comforting sibling (Moretti, effectively subdued) – her innate control-freakery prevents her accepting the reality of her mother’s imminent passing.
The blend of on-set knockabout and private anxiety seems discordantly counter-productive at first, yet the laughter allows some light into the proceedings, building to the conclusion that Buy’s presumption of having her intellectual shit together isn’t matched by her essentially flailing life skills. The saturation of Arvo Pärt instant-melancholia on the soundtrack feels a bit too pushy, but otherwise this is a confidently controlled, accessible, yet piercing look at the insidiousness of grief. Moretti at his best.