31 Days of Reviews: The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

After a traumatic event robs her of her innocence, Francisca uses her childhood fascination with death to connect with the world and those around her in extremely dark and morbid ways.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I sat down to watch this movie. I had no idea.

“It’s only 76 minutes long,” I said to myself, “This one will be easy”

As I sat through The Eyes of My Mother, I soon came to realize just how wrong that thought process was. My stomach dropped. I felt sick. I was feeling both physical and emotional pain throughout the entire thing. I will never watch this movie again.

I have mixed thoughts about this film. I genuinely do. It’s taken me quite some time to be able to formulate some sort of response. Honestly, every time I think about it that sinking feeling in my stomach comes back. It’s a bit unbearable.

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 11.05.20 PM

At first glance, The Eyes of My Mother appears to be an artsy, independent film. It fits that description in every sense. It has long, lingering cinematic shots. The creators forgo a tripod every time they think they need to show something gritty and disorienting. It’s split into sections with title cards. Above all else, it’s in black and white. Those film critics just eat up black and white films.

As the film began, or rather in the film’s first act “1. Mother,” I was interested. It definitely felt like I was going to be treated to a load of pretentious filmmaking, but the story does start in a dark and intriguing way. I had no qualms with how the movie began. I was interested to see how the story was going to progress from the childhood trauma that our main character faces.

The rest of the story, in acts titled “2. Father” and “3. Family,” the story gets even more dark and twisted than the first act did. It’s a very slow descent into some extremely grotesque subject matter. I feel it becomes very repetitive. It was hard to continue to watch something where I knew exactly what was going to happen, and I knew when it happened I wasn’t going to like it.

The subject matter really is horrific, but any gore is not shown on screen. The movie cuts away before showing anything, leaving the dirty details to the imagination. Normally I would appreciate this, I’m not a big gore person myself. With a movie paced this slowly and with this much tension though, it almost felt like there was no pay off in a way. It’s an odd thing to try to describe.

There was one moment in particular where a twisted sense of justice is finally served. Even with a minimal amount of violence being shown here, I was left feeling unsatisfied. As I write this review, I continue to find myself without words to truly describe my feelings on this film.

The Eyes of My Mother really is an artsy film. Most of the critic reviews I’ve seen for it are very positive. In many ways though, I wonder what the reviews would be like if the movie wasn’t in black and white. What if the movie was in color? Would the reviews still be praising it as much as they currently are? I’m honestly not sure. Currently, the black and white provides a convenient reason for such a slow pacing. Audiences are trained to view black and white films as higher forms of art. Does that apply in this case? My thoughts are still not in order.

It’s definitely not for everyone. I wouldn’t outright recommend it at all. My feelings toward the film lean so much toward disgust that I’ll never sit down to watch it again. It’s just one of those films. I would recommend skipping it and saving yourself the anguish that I felt.

If I had to give it a positive at this point, I’d say The Eyes of My Mother definitely sticks with you once the credits roll. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends entirely on you.

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