Though its focus remains tight on its main subject — a Russian single mother of nine — Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov’s award-winning film has the scope, precision and resonance of a literary masterpiece. The cinematography is startling, with bleached colors that reflect the washed-out dreams of its subjects. Though shot largely with handheld cameras, its compositions would do Cartier-Bresson proud. The film’s blend of long takes and jump cuts give it the feel of an epic. And the characters and their stories are richer than fiction, as they celebrate, fight, grieve and survive. But The Mother is more than the sum of these magnificent parts, thanks to the richness and complexity of the themes it explores: the daily violence absorbed by women and children, the impossible traps of modern masculinity, the generations-long impact of addiction, the innocence of first love. Taking the long-form documentary to new heights, Cattin and Kostomarov have crafted an urgent classic of 21st-century cinema.
Pavel Kostomarov was born in 1975, Moscow. From 1992 to 1996, he studied engineering at the Institute of Biology in Moscow. In 2002 he graduated from the State Film Institute as a cinematographer. He has worked on a number of films as a cinematographer with directors Sergey Loznitsa, Victor Asliuk, Alexey Uchitel and Alexey Popogrebsky. Filmography (director): The Transformer (2003, Best Documentary at the Tampere ISFF); Life in Peace (2004, Silver Dove at DOK Leipzig, Silver Dragon for Best Documentary at the 45th Krakow FF); Mother (2007), all co-directed with Antoine Cattin; Two Together (2009); I Love You (2010, co-directed with Alexander Rastorguev).
Depressing but revealing film about a mother of nine children barely surviving in rustic Russia. We see the brutality of day to day but also the love and tenderness her brood have for one another. The oldest daughter in particular we have an affinity for as it is she who has helped raise the rest, but in the time period of the film we see her married and become a mother herself with a similar.life ahead. Strong.
"A literary masterpiece" indeed, though at certain points I kept wondering about the ethics of it, on the directors' part. But overall, genius editing! As I'm guessing from the film, the directors must have spent quite some years with the family and they managed to compile all the footage in a very smart way.
This film completely dispelled my naive romantic view of life in the Russian provinces. It's seemingly a life of alcoholism,brutality,poverty yet conversely one of extreme warmth and love. The mother and her children had nothing materially yet an incredible amount in terms of their love for each other; there is a lesson in that for all of us in the richer parts of the world. A beautiful,beautiful film.