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Review: The Eyes of My Mother – “A hideous tale beautifully told”

The Eyes of My Mother is the debut film from writer-director Nicolas Pesce and stars Kika Magalhaes (‘Welcome Home’), Will Brill (‘Not Fade Away’) and Olivia Bond (‘Roger Dodger’).

Francisca is a little girl, living in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with her father and mother – who is an eye surgeon. One day, while her dad is away, a mysterious drifter pays a call on Francisca and her mum. In a terrifying and heart-rending sequence, this man murders Francisca’s mother with dad arriving home agonisingly just too late to save her. He knocks the interloper out and chains him up in the barn, where Francisca visits him to ask why he did it. He tells her because “It feels amazing”, before Francisca uses her surgical skills picked up from mum to remove his eyes and tongue and keep him as a pet slash only friend.

Flashing forward to Francisca now having grown up to be played by Kika Magalhaes, the tragedy escalates when father dies. Now all alone, Francisca ventures out into the world looking for a companionship which is often misinterpreted, and frequently ends in blood, sadness and death. Magalhaes’s performance is amazing. Her Francisca is horrifying, yet still highly sympathetic: all big pleading eyes just needing love – yet not thinking twice about reaching for something sharp if she feels threatened.

Filmed completely in black and white, every shot is perfectly composed and the monochrome makes the murderous moments more palatable, while encouraging the film to be viewed on a higher level. ‘The Eyes of My Mother’ could easily have come across as exploitative, but Pesce’s eye and care have crafted an uneasy, unsettling and upsetting film that is akin to an arthouse mash-up of ‘The Woman’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.

Grim and quietly haunting, it is a film that will stay with you for days afterwards even though it is wrapped up in a too-brief seventy-six minutes. Horrific and heartbreaking, The Eyes of My Mother is a hideous tale beautifully told. Kika Magalhaes is incredible in this gory, stylish and sad tragi-horror about loneliness, madness and murder.

The Eyes of My Mother is in UK cinemas on 24th March 2017.

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