To have your film produced by Borderline Presents really means something – time after time, they are creating films that are jarring, pushing the boundaries of genre, gripping audiences and often incredibly confrontational. Nicolas Pesce’s directorial debut, The Eyes of My Mother is being billed as “from the producers of Christine and Martha Marcy May Marlene” – two of the most powerful and provocative films from the team. Both these previous films feature some of the biggest stars in Borderline’s filmography and it’s incredibly interesting to see them billed for this particular film, especially as this film contains no star names.
It must be said right away that The Eyes of My Mother is one of the most disturbing and evocative films of the year, powerfully clawing its way deep under the skin of the audience. But it is also incredibly beautiful and powerful – visually the language it uses is unique and innovative. Between Pesce’s directing and the cinematography from Zach Kuperstein, the audience become complicit in the action, it feels like a reality that one could live in and that is what makes it all the more terrifying.
The film follows the story of Francisca (Kika Magalhaes, a younger version played by Olivia Bond), who is taught by her trained surgeon mother (Diana Agostini) how to remove the eyes of farm animals. When one day a tragedy strikes the family on the farm, Francisca deals with her fears, her sadness and her loneliness in the only way that she understands. She strikes those who work against her, she misunderstands human emotion and loses any kind of empathy that she may have had. She pulls away from public life, consumed by the ways in which she believes she can understand how to live.
The thing about The Eyes of My Mother is that it never judges its main character but instead allows her the room to discover the
world she wants to live in – the performance from Magalhaes is powerful and sublime, a very contained performance with little dialogue and yet says so many different things. It is a nightmarish vision of a world drained of colour, which is bound to leave you thinking it over and over for weeks to come. The imagery of the film pushes the audiences hard and whilst what we see onscreen is troubling, often what happens off screen is likely to be worse and therefore Pesce leaves the audience to piece the story together in their own minds.
A very human horror story, The Eyes of My Mother is a delicately told tale, passionately put together by a team who are certainly going to be creating some incredible work and certainly names to remember.