The Eyes of My Mother full movie review - Genuinely a work of cinematic art. And I hated it.
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
Executive summary: Unquestionably a horror masterpiece. But unless you LIKE being horrified in an especially nauseating way, I would recommend avoiding this one.
Within the first 9 minutes of this movie, including the opening credits and a foreshadowing sequence, a young girl of perhaps 9 or 10 years old has a ringside seat at the brutal murder of her mother by a serial killer. The fact that this scene is NOT the most horrific scene/event in this movie, nor even remotely so, should give you some idea of what seeing this movie is like.
There is horror and then there is horror. There is horror, writ small, in movies like ALIEN or POLTERGEIST; thrills and chills and jump- scares that make for an exciting movie-going experience, but unless you're a child, no real dents or scratches on your psychological or emotional paint job. Everything that happens is so far outside of your first- hand experience, or even the possibility of your first-hand experience, there isn't much opportunity for deep impact.
And then there is HORROR, writ large. In such movies, all of you is fair game, especially your head. All of the myriad ways in which a human being can experience horror, usually expressed as a vivid spectrum of unimaginable suffering inflicted deliberately by and to others, are excruciatingly detailed on screen.
In point of fact, most horror pictures don't really have a lot of subtlety or depth to them in that the elements of horror depicted are most often shallow representations of gore or make-believe monsters/supernatural scares. As people, for the most part, such representations don't really touch us in any way that is emotionally or psychologically painful. There isn't much chance that you're going to experience a bunch of ghosts or space aliens attacking on any given day. Such things are sugar candy terrors from our imagination and carry very little lasting emotional impact.
But a horror story in which gore is relegated to a mere visual condiment in the context of emotional deadness, affection starvation, isolation, genuinely devastating psychological damage, sociopathic disconnection, et al. is what I might term, for lack of a better description, REAL horror. Real bad things that can and do happen to real people at the hands of other real people to the point where you become confused whether anyone ISN'T a real monster in one way or another. This is horror that is carefully calculated, artfully designed, beautifully crafted, and finally, perfectly polished and balanced. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect the film was shot in black-and-white because the ordinarily bright colors of gore are very muted in black-and-white, and the director didn't want them distracting from the subtler but more powerful horror going on.
In THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, I don't think any thought was given to entertainment value because it wasn't relevant to the objective. This was a creation of a gifted connoisseur of horror, and it's finesse carried me well past my tolerance for such things.
I give the movie top marks because it's genuinely artistic cinema and exceptionally well made. The creators set out to create a certain kind of movie and they hit their target squarely. Which is not the same thing as saying that I liked it, because I didn't. The only note in it that did not ring completely true to me was the notion that a woman surgeon from Portugal would somehow end up the wife of an aged farmer in the middle of nowhere in America. This device was necessary to the plot, but it does strain credulity.
Primarily, I watch movies for the purposes of being entertained. I can recognize genuine art in almost any medium, and this movie definitely qualifies as that. But for me, it was not entertainment. I didn't take points off for that fact because it wasn't trying to be.
But I have an awareness that Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Josef Mengele are concrete, historical facts and part of the real world. Also, "according to former chief of the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, John Douglas, there are 25 to 50 active serial killers in the United States at any given moment". Everything in THE EYES OF MY MOTHER has the odor of the entirely possible. There is nothing of the outlandish or wildly unbelievable about it. If you don't ever experience any of the 31 Flavors of Horror depicted in this movie in the course of your life, it's only a coincidental, happy circumstance. I really don't want to experience a horror picture that works so hard to GET AT YOU in this way.
I can "appreciate" the skillfulness and artistry with which this movie was created. I can't see how anyone with any subtlety, intelligence and even a shred of empathy could possibly "enjoy" it. I wouldn't have enjoyed watching Josef Mengele do his "work", either.