Kamloops Film Festival in review: The Eyes of My Mother

Each year, The Omega reviews the films presented at the Kamloops Film Festival. The festival runs through March 11.

Inspired filmmaking is what I think of when looking back at my time with The Eyes of My Mother. It is one of those rare films that will stick with you long after you leave the theatre, and judging from many of the reactions in the room, there will inevitably be mixed reviews.

First time writer and director Nicolas Pesce quickly draws us into the macabre inner life of Francisca (Kika Magalhaes), a young Portuguese girl who grows up on her family farm with her mother and father. Her mother (Diana Agostini), a former surgeon, teaches Francisca about animal anatomy while they tend to mundane farm work, but with the slow-paced camera work, cinematography, and sound design, there is a growing unease that slowly builds until the arrival of a disturbed drifter who wanders onto the farm. From there we descend into a disturbingly unique hell of a lonely girl.

The Eyes of My Mother is presented in black and white, which I was skeptical about going into the theatre, but right away it becomes clear that the cinematography is almost a character unto itself. It’s often the brilliant framing of light and dark, life and death, that grips on to you and doesn’t let go. I’m doubtful the film would be as strong in colour.

The film probably won’t be for everyone; there were some audience members who vocally seemed to dislike the film, in some cases saying it was too disturbing or too slow or boring. If you enjoy a film that challenges your sensibilities and requires you to be present and live within it, you will want to make a point of seeing this film.