Filmmakers from the Estonian crime thriller, “Mother,” joined me to talk about the premiere tonight at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival!
Female-centric films are a focal point this year at the Tribeca Film Festival and “Mother” fits in perfectly to be a part of this category. Not only is the lead and main subject female, the film is also written, directed, and produced by women.
Elsa and her husband live in a small town in Estonia where everyone knows everyone—and everyone’s business. It’s quaint, yet there an undertone that we immediately feel that this is just a superficial feeling. What actually happens behind closed doors is an entirely different story and that’s where “Mother” becomes one of the most sublimely subtle crime thrillers of recent years.
Being a mother, if we are honest with ourselves, can be an overwhelming responsibility no matter your child’s age. Couple that with the devastation of having your adult son being shot and in a vegetative coma and you are the sole caregiver creates a situation that is completely unfathomable. No matter how much you love your child, being charged with the daily tasks and the constant reminder of the loss of independence, hopes, and dreams he had is more than most could take. Elsa must shut those emotions down, bury them deep within herself, in order to function on a daily basis. This stoic woman, trapped in a loveless marriage, reveals that there is more to her than initially meets the eye.
The story is intensely gripping as there is the search for her son’s shooter. The darkness that shadows every scene is palpable, even on a bright, sunny day where the garden is perfectly kept and the house is spotless. The tension and resentment between Elsa and her husband seeps into every part of Elsa’s life, including her affair. Within all of this drama comes some very wry humor as we meet the bumbling detective and we watch Elsa’s reaction to the various visitors who come to see her son. We have both sympathy and empathy for Elsa and seeing the sixth sense she has about people and their motives can be seen quite subtly with Elsa’s barely perceptible, yet dramatic expressions.
“Mother” delves deeply into the human psyche and the differences among women and their needs and wants. Elsa is complicated, but in a very familiar way. The honest portrayal of a woman who sacrifices her hopes and dreams early in life eliciting resentment, creates an element of reality in “Mother.” The film also captures a generation where marriages stay together, even if they are not happy ones.
It’s wonderfully refreshing to see such a strong female lead portrayed with the grace and deft acting skills of Tiina Malberg. Of equal importance in “Mother” is the portrayal of men who have few lines, and their characterizations are what you might typically see for female supporting roles.
“Mother” is a powerful film with its writing, style, and most of all the performance by Malberg. Beautifully filmed, this captivating story will intrigue you, bring you into the story to try to solve the mystery, and then blow you away with the ending. Well done!
If you’re in NYC, be sure to check out this film at the Tribeca Film Festival. Go to www.tribecafilm.com