A young girl learns about anatomy and death from her mother who was once an eye surgeon. After a strange man appears and brutally murders her mother, the girl grows up to have many morbid fascinations. The older the girl gets, the more she feels the need to live out these fascinations. She also increasingly has abandonment issues. Eventually the girl’s loneliness comes to a head, and her actions get out of hand.
This is a film that is deeply morbid and visually stunning. The filmmakers chose to shoot the entire film in black and white. This decision adds not only to the unsettling images we see, but it also adds an artistic edge. If the film had been shot in color it would have taken the scenes from dark and beautiful to pure gore and carnage. The plot adds to the strange beauty by having a seemingly innocent girl at various stages of her life doing horrific things. Seeing what happened to her as a child makes you have a certain level of sympathy for the girl, but as time passes she becomes more and more deranged. It creates a very unsettling atmosphere (which, in a way, felt somewhat like the 2002 film May).
While the film is generally interesting and beautiful, it felt like it was lacking a bit in substance. I’ve noticed a common theme among films that focus more on the style of the movie than the actual content. While The Eyes of My Mother falls in with these other films, it at least has enough of a plot to keep the audience intrigued. There are still many times where it felt like the film was moving slowly or there wasn’t anything going on. The fact this film is only about an hour and fifteen minutes long only further shows the lack of content. There are also actions taken by some of the characters that simply don’t make sense to me. For example, the actions taken by the father after the mother is killed are completely nonsensical. It is something you can imagine the daughter doing since she is deranged, but there is nothing in the character development that leads you to believe the father would choose this path.
Much like with the plot, there is not a lot going on in terms of the acting. It makes it difficult to judge. There is really only one actor who has a substantial amount of content in the film. Kika Magalhaes (City of Gold) stars as Francisca. This is only the second role in a film for Magalhaes. Because she has few speaking parts it makes it somewhat difficult for me to critique her acting. I can say that Magalhaes succeeds on portraying a disturbing character with what seems like no conscious, while still making the audience feel sympathetic towards her. The other characters feel more like props in Francisca’s twisted little world.
It is harder to appreciate the practical effects in this film since it is in black and white, but if you pay close attention you can really see how marvelously done they are. While the injuries on the victims are well done, what stands out to me comes before any of the injuries occur. In the beginning of the film, the mother teaches Francisca about anatomy (specifically of the eye) by dissecting a cow head. Even without the advantage of color you can still see how realistic the cow head and the removed cow eye are. It is also a bit of a fun anatomy lesson for those of us that aren’t as familiar with the anatomy of eyes.
This is a film I don’t love, but I don’t hate it either. There always seems to be one film horror critics rave about that I just can’t get on board with. Sadly, this is that film. The Eyes of My Mother delivers on the creep factor as well as some disturbing images. The downside is that it lacks a bit in content and relies heavily on the images. There are some wise decisions made by the filmmakers, such as the use of black and white coloring. If the bloody mutilation had been in color, the film would have felt more like a B-movie than an artistic indie film. Either way, this is a film I would recommend people see at least once, but it doesn’t have great rewatchability.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10