(aka 'The Religion Hour' or 'My Mother's Smile')
"A very odd thriller" is how Italian
director Marco Bellocchio describes My Mother's Smile, his uncannily
beautiful and deeply humanist exploration of the nightmares that resurface from
a Roman atheist's Catholic childhood. The ever excellent Sergio Castellitto
plays the unbeliever, Ernesto, a successful painter and children's book
illustrator, separated from his wife (Jacqueline Lustig) but devoted to his
young son. One afternoon, a messenger from the Vatican arrives at his studio in
Rome and announces, to Ernesto's dismay, that the painter's late mother—whom he
never particularly liked—is now a candidate for sainthood.
What follows has the overheated, dreamlike quality of someone's paranoid fantasy, as Ernesto attempts to navigate a maze of baroque familial and papal intrigues while uncomfortably revisiting the past, including his mother's murder at the hands of his mad, blaspheming brother (Donato Placido). Along the way, he's challenged to a duel by an imperious count (Toni Bertorelli) and helped—or led astray?—by a fetching young woman who claims to be his son's religion teacher (Chiara Conti).
Theatrical Release: May 16th, 2002 - Cannes Film Festival
DVD Review: New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
with director Marco Bellocchio (8:09)
liner notes with director interview
A superlative DVD package from New Yorker, although, as typical for their production transfers of recent years, it is an unconverted PAL->NTSC port. It still looks quite detailed but it produces fine combing in horizontal pans. Colors are acceptable although there is a greenish haze that also tends to be a production association with NY'er's European films put to digital. With the bad out of the way the DVD has excellent optional English subtitles and is filled with extensive supplements in the form of interviews, a filmed conversation between director and star, a short featurette and liner notes.
With my initial exposure to Bellocchio in Criterion's recent Fists in the Pocket DVD, I was anxious to see My Mother's Smile and found it very enjoyable with a fascinating premise. I recommend!