Sunday, September 25, 2016

Goodnight Mommy (Ich Seh Ich Seh)

Year: 2015
Directors: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
Cast: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz

Plot: A pair of twin brothers welcome home their mother after a long absence due to an accident. However her strange behavior, and the fact that her face is still bandaged due to cosmetic surgery leads the boys to suspect that she isn't their mother.

Review: This was one of the films released in the last twelve months that I had wanted to catch, and I was fortunate enough to be able to see this in a cinema hall.

Goodnight Mommy, Austria's submission to the Oscars for Best Foreign Picture (though it failed to get a nomination), focuses on Lukas and Elias, twin brothers who welcome their mother home after an accident recently. She has undergone cosmetic surgery, so her face is bandaged. She seems all right at first, but her behavior starts to turn peculiar, leading the boys to think that an impostor is wearing the bandages and pretending to be their mother.

Writers/directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz present what seems like a normal situation, then slowly ratchets up the tension while keeping things as mysterious as possible. It's a psychological thriller with a twist at the end, and while it was a nice twist, I saw it coming quite early. Nevertheless, Fiala and Franz deserve credit for successfully making me second guess myself a few times.

Technically, the film looks gorgeous. The cinematography is just lovely, as every shot, from the wide view of the jungle and corn fields to the confined spaces of the family home, or the light that comes through the windows when someone pulls the blinds is perfect. Kudos also to the set designers for creating a beautiful house inside and out. It looks fantastic and yet simple.

However, the film does drag every now and then, and certain scenes felt like they were inserted just to create shock horror and don't quite gel with the overall film. Even the ending seems a tad ambiguous, though if one were to decipher it the way I did, it felt tragic, and if that's what Fiala and Franz were going for, then it was well done.

Susanne Wuest and the twins Lukas and Elias Schwarz all put in stellar performances here as the mother and the twins respectively. Each of them get a chance to show how creepy and sadistic they can be, and I loved how it turned out.

Overall, other than the weak editing, Goodnight Mommy is an unsettling yet fascinating thriller, and certainly worth checking out. (7/10)

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