TL;DR – While the premise is strong, the inconsistencies in tone lead to a dissonant ending.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
In my drive to see more international films, one area where I do not have a lot of experience with is the cinema from Spain and Latin America. Indeed, most of my experience comes from interpretations of Latin American culture like the still excellent Coco. However, today I start to fix this with a film that explores the difficult relationship between a mother and her daughter.
So to set the scene, we open in on a day that no one wishes, for María (Estefanía de los Santos) is returning home, and not for a happy reunion. Because unfortunately, her mother Paca (Terele Pávez) has passed away, or maybe not unfortunately given how everyone talks about her. María had an estranged relationship with her mother that was never resolved. This means that María has to deal with all the funeral proceedings, while also dealing with the complicated relationship she had with her mother and that is all before the will is divulged.
far as stories go, this is a relatively easy one to digest, well at least at
the start. You have two proud women that never had any resolution in life and
apparently ended things of pretty bad terms. This leads to a very tense
situation that is only expounded upon when the ‘I’m not sure that’s legal’
conditions to the will are read out, only then for things to spiral out of
control from there like a snowball falling down the side of a mountain in an
old cartoon. This is even before Juan the Hot Priest (Alfonso Sánchez) and Pili
the ex-classmate who is now a prostitute (Paz Vega) enters the picture.
While all of this is compelling, and there are some amusing moments like when a discussion turns into an argument and all the old ladies pull up a seat to snoop in. However, it feels like they could not work out what tone it wanted to be. There are times when it really wants to delve into the relationship between the mother and daughter and the impact that has on her past and present, but we then hard cut to María explosively farting herself. This disconnect permeates the film and makes the third act really difficult to get through. All of this is a problem because the film is structured much like the classic The Party where everything starts of fine but avalanches into chaos. But by the time it reaches that crescendo I found myself checked out of the whole thing.
In the end, do we recommend ¡Ay, Mi Madre!? Look, maybe. There are some moments here that are really funny also some that are really poignant and the underlying story of María finding her strength is a good one. It is just you will have to sit through a lot of fart jokes, unnecessary side-plots and other extraneous factors to get through that.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of ¡Ay, Mi Madre!
Directed by – Frank Ariza
Written by – Frank Ariza
Music by – Gabriel Sarlo, Josue Santos, Roberto Gutiérrez & Juan José Suárez
Cinematography by – Óscar Montesinos & Willy Abad
Edited by – Vicente Ibáñez
Production/Distribution Companies – Gossip Event & Productions
Starring – Estefanía de los Santos, Secun de la Rosa, Mariola Fuentes, Marta Torné, Paz Vega, Terele Pávez, María Alfonsa Rosso, Concha Galán & Alfonso Sánchez
Rating – Australia: M;