Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Goodnight Mommy (orig. Ich Seh, Ich Seh) [2015]

MPAA (R)  Fr. Dennis (1 Star)

IMDb listing
Film-Zeit.de listing*

Critic.de (U. Lupelmeier) review*

Goodnight Mommy (orig. Ich Seh, Ich Seh) [2015] [IMDb] [FZ.de]* (cowritten and codirected by Severin Fiala [IMDb] [FZ.de]* and Veronika Franz [IMDb] [FZ.de]*) is an Austrian horror film that apparently will be Austria's submission to the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.  It's currently making the "art house" circuit in the United States, playing here in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre.  I found the film become all but unwatchable and left it with still 20-30 minutes to go...

The plot is simple enough: In the story, Lukas and Elias (played by Lukas [IMDb] [FZ.de]* and Elias Schwarz [IMDb] [FZ.de]*) twin boys, about 10 years old, living with their mother (played by Susanne Wuest [IMDb] [FZ.de]*) in a secluded rather modern / somewhat impersonal looking house somewhere in the Austrian countryside get it into their heads that their mother, recently divorced and recently having undergone some rather significant cosmetic surgery was not really their mother: She was being rather irritable, and for the first third of the film her face was covered by bandages.  Looking through an old photo album, they find a picture of their mother when she was in her 20s with another woman, who looked a lot like her, but wasn't her, a woman who they never knew, and they become convinced that this "other woman" had now come into their lives and was pretending to be their mother.

All right, according to Ulf Lupelmeier of Critic.de (link above),* the film was at least partly inspired by a recent (presumably German language) "reality TV" series in which mothers were separated from their families for about 8 weeks to undergo radical beautifying cosmetic surgery and apparently _young children_ were often confused when reintroduced to their suddenly different (if perhaps "more beautiful") looking mothers.

Well "good ole" 10-12 year old Lukas and Elias decide to tie-up the woman who they believe is posing as their mother (with unused gauze bandages left-over from her cosmetic surgery) in her bed as she as was sleeping one night, and then PROCEED TO TORTURE HER into confessing that she's not really their mother.

I left after the two had burned a hole into her cheek with a large magnifying glass, and then _superglued_ her mouth shut so that she would stop screaming.  They were going to open her mouth again to feed her, using a box cutter, as I was heading out the door ...

What the ...?

It obviously becomes BESIDE THE POINT whether this poor woman was their mother or not.  I left wondering if the two children had become almost "poster children" for a re-institution of a CHILD DEATH PENALTY as part of me would say that even _death_ was probably _not good enough_ for these "little monsters."

But then, it was also obvious that these "little monsters" as AWFUL as they were honestly didn't know the full implications of what they were doing that NO ONE deserved to be tortured the way they were tormenting that poor woman who honestly was still most likely their own mother.

I also began to wonder if part of the subtext of the film was still a residual search for understanding of how THE NAZIS came about:

In this film, these two kids simply "got it into their heads" THE CRAZY IDEA that their mother was "not really their mother" and proceeded to _torture her_ until she "confessed" that she was not (whether that was the case or not).

Similarly, the NAZIS "got into their heads" THE CRAZY IDEA that Germans were somehow qualitatively "racially superior" to the other people / peoples around them and SIMILARLY went onto TORTURE / MURDER / INDUSTRIALLY LIQUIDATE BY GAS (!!) MILLIONS of people, JEWS (6 MILLION) in particular, IN "SERVICE" of that CRAZY IDEA.

Anyway, I found the film to be WILDLY DISTURBING and by midway through the story UTTERLY UNWATCHABLE.  If one "has to" watch this film at all, I'd suggest renting it, so that if by the end, one "just wants to turn it off" one could do so without wasting a great deal of time or money ...

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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