The bond between parent and child is a strong one, perhaps the strongest, so when that bond is broken, the results are shattering.
Mother (or Madre in its native Spanish) is the latest from writer and director Rodrigo Sorogoyen (“Stockholm”, “Fragiles (TV)”).
We open with perhaps the longest pan across a beach at dawn, or dusk, ever in a short film. The waves crash against the beach as we continue to pan and then, we’re in an apartment.
Marta Nieto (“Supercool (Short)”, “The Ministry Of Time (TV)”) and her mother Blanca Apilanez (“Pelotas (TV)”, “I Know Who You Are (TV)”) are scurrying around talking about this and that when Marta’s mobile phone begins to ring.
She answers expecting her friend but gets her six-year old son instead who is away with her ex, the father. The conversation begins like any other mother-son conversation as she asks her son what he’s up to and what he’s going to be doing.
But her son drops a bomb shell when he informs her that daddy has left him alone at the beach. He’s been gone some time, he’s not sure how long, where is daddy? Why hasn’t he come back? I don’t know which beach mamma, the phone battery is dying, there’s no-one around, no houses or bars…mamma…where’s daddy?
Mother will have you gripped from start to finish as every parent’s worst nightmare becomes a reality for Marta. As you’d expect, she is frantic, pacing, not knowing what to do. The police are little help and she is, potentially, thousands of miles away.
Nieto is brilliant as the frantic mother, going from jovial with her own mother to panicked, tearful and lashing out as a mother herself.
Sorogoyen builds and builds the tension, adding layer after layer to the story, dropping them in at just the right time, just when you think things can’t get worse, they do.
By the end of Mother I found I was sitting on the edge of the sofa gnawing at my knuckles without even realising, and I’m not even a parent.
Mother is simply a stunning piece of film-making. To put so much tension in just 19 minutes is nothing short of genius. Brilliant.
Also published on Medium.