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My Mother's Smile (2002)

Cast: Sergio Castellitto, Jacqueline Lustig, Chiara Conti, more...
Director: Marco Bellocchio
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Studio: New Yorker Video
Genre: Foreign
Running Time: 102 min.
Languages: Italian
Subtitles: English
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Ernesto (Sergio Castellitto of Va Savoir) is a successful artist and devout atheist who finds out that his mother, whom he despised, is being considered for sainthood. Ernesto's young son, Leonardo (Alberto Mondini), influenced by his religion teacher, has developed a fear of God, whom he tries to shoo away like a pest. "If He's everywhere," Leonardo reasons, "then I'm not free -- even for a second." Ernesto's estranged wife, Irene (Jacqueline Lustig), encourages Leonardo's faith, and seems to be on the side of Ernesto's family, who are greedily clamoring to get Ernesto to participate in the canonization process. His mentally unstable brother, Egidio (Donato Placido), who will speak only to Ernesto, murdered their mother years earlier, and holds the key to her beatification. At a party, Ernesto insults a deranged monarchist, Conte Bulla (Toni Bertorelli), who then challenges him to a duel. Ernesto goes to complain to Leonardo's religion teacher, expecting to find an ugly old woman, and instead finds Diana (Chiara Conti), an impossibly beautiful young woman who admires his work. Ernesto meets the Cardinal (Maurizio Donadoni), and tells the man that his mother was "stupid" and "had no passion." "Loving someone is the best way to declare my atheism," he declares. But as he gets caught up in all the intrigue, Ernesto recognizes a connection to his hated mother that he cannot escape; he has the same mocking smile. Marco Bellocchio's My Mother's Smile was shown at the 2002 New York Film Festival and at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, where it won a Special Mention for the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Mom & God -- and Their "Love" by talltale May 18, 2006 - 3:03 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Sergio Castellitto is among the finest actors working today and he lifts MY MOTHER'S SMILE into the must-see realm. All about the reactions of family, church and politicians to the possible canonization of a mother who was murdered by one of her sons (how's THAT for something different?), the film bears the mark of one of the more interesting writer/directors working today.

Marco Bellocchio has steadfastly refused, from his first full-length film ("Fist in His Pocket") to his most recent ("Good Morning Night"), to make a conventional movie--the sort that, after one viewing, you could explain everything to the satisfaction of your ten-year-old (or mainstream American viewer). It's not that things appear inexplicable; as they move along, you'll follow. But midway and beyond, if try to add it all up in any conventional manner, it won't quite compute. Yet many of us will accept the confusion willingly because Bellocchio deals with such primal themes and handles them with care and depth.

Here his concerns are familial love (especially a mother's), religion, faith and humanity's adept/inept survival choices. This is a beautiful film to watch--quiet and often oddly funny--and its content, resonant yet elusive, remains behind for pondering.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.25)
12 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2002
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.

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