Magazine article Variety

Actress Trio Shines in Bispuri's 'Daughter of Mine'

Magazine article Variety

Actress Trio Shines in Bispuri's 'Daughter of Mine'

Article excerpt

Actress Trio Shines in Bispuri's 'Daughter of Mine'

REVIEW

IT HAS BEEN a little while since the heyday of the Italian island melodrama, since Anna Magnani shaded her eyes from the glare over a darkly sparkling sea, or Ingrid Bergman staggered her stony way up Stromboli. But even back then it would have been rare to come across such a film in which the tempestuous tug-oflove does not involve a man, but a little red-headed girl and the two women she calls "Mamma." This is Laura Bispuri's sunswept, emotive, and elemental sophomore film, after her sensitive culture and gen- der exploration "Sworn Virgin." And even when it trips up in its later stages, "Daughter of Mine" is a noble rarity, passionately involved in the exploration of oppositional ideas of motherhood not just as an abstract concept, but as a real and vivid, painfully sacrificial thing.

"Wash between your toes, you always let it get so dirty in there," says Tina (Valeria Golino) to her 10-year-old daughter Vittoria (Sara Casu). But when Vittoria parrots the line to Angelica (Alba Rohrwacher) as she soaks the foot she wounded in a hangover-related stumble, Angelica replies airily, "Dirt goes everywhere anyway." It is a neat summation of the different perspectives of the two women (rather too neat - the use of dialogue to illustrate these contrasts and parallels becomes a little too obvious as the film wears on). The respectable and sensible Tina believes that if you remain vigilant you can manufacture order out of chaos. The debt-ridden, alcoholic Angelica is convinced that chaos will always win, so why bother?

This unusual triangular relationship is the result of an unwritten agreement between the women that began on the night Angelica, the town "party girl" gave birth to Vittoria. Since then, Tina has raised the unwitting child as her own, while she and her husband Umberto (a graceful, deliberately recessive performance from Michele Carboni) have helped to support the dissolute, free-spirited, animal-loving Angelica. But Vittoria is of an age now when not only is she starting to resemble her fair-haired biological mother much more than brunette Tina, she is also learning to recognize her own unhappiness and to look for someone to blame for it. When Angelica's debts finally come due on an unpayable scale, Tina becomes paranoid that somehow she will re-stake her claim to her daughter. And, as is so often the way, fearing that eventuality helps bring it about. Vittoria and Angelica meet, and without knowing their real relationship, Vittoria is transfixed by Angelica's vivacity, her seeming fearlessness. …

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