“Why do you do it?”
“It feels amazing.”
Best horror film of the year – and the prettiest one.
Just this truly horrific descent into madness, built around trance-like long takes and monochromatic tableaux of terror. Writer/Director Nicolas Pesce has essentially created a fable in the vein of the classic, gory Grimm Brothers, but he makes it with such craft and power that I couldn’t help but be completely swept away with it.
The Eyes of My Mother is about a young girl named Francisca who witnesses the death of her surgeon mother by the hands of a very casual home invader. When her father buries her mother but chains up the invader in the barn, Francisca’s already precarious mental state breaks, and her idea of connection, normalcy, and companionship are irrevocably warped.
The narrative itself is thin, but that’s made up for by the pure style, which gives so much more to the audience. Pesce sinks you into his world slowly, letting you acclimate to the atmosphere before puncturing it with terror. From that moment at the end of the first act on, this dream becomes inescapable, and the imagery – though not particularly graphic – is so visceral that one can forget that is also metaphorically loaded. Francisca is a stunted woman who has grown up with all the instinctual desires of a person – love, sex, hunger, friendship, etc – but with only the most grotesque tools available to gain these things. And so, because she associates destruction with love and pleasure, she is only able to hurt herself and others to feel any semblance of joy. But, because her worldview is still so simple, we are able to empathise with her, we are able to find understanding in the naive child portrayed here wonderfully by Kika Magalhaes.
I was absolutely terrified by The Eyes of My Mother, but I found it beautiful, too. It gave me actual nightmares.