Marghe and her mother
Panorama | Focus on Italy
Riffing nimbly on Pasolini’s Arabian Nights, Mohsen Makhmalbaf startles and stuns with his Italian debut. Our protagonist is Claudia (Ylenia Galtieri), an unemployed single mother who gets caught in a maelstrom of whimsy and discontent as she searches for work in Southern Italy. But when this flat-broke twenty-something gets word of a potential acting gig with some local big wigs, things seem to finally be going her way - if only these supposedly wealthy producers weren’t just two opportunists motivated by evidently salacious intentions…
Balancing the picaresque encounters of Claudia with the everyday travails of Marghe, the woman’s hilariously insolent daughter who temporarily takes up residence at a local convent, Iranian master Makhmalbaf refuses to employ the trappings so often associated with stories of the economically downtrodden. Even as his female protagonist is guided through a series of indignities that range from the mundane to the surreal, Marghe and her mother keeps its sights on something far more electrifying, spectacular, and unclassifiable: call it la dolce vita.