As with his feature debut, Fists in the Pocket , Marco Bellocchios My Mothers Smile was deemed blasphemous by the Roman Catholic Church for what the Church referred to as Bellocchios "systematic destruction of family and religious values." Contrary to the Churchs presumptions about Bellocchio, My Mothers Smile is a fascinating portrait of a man (Sergio Castellitto as Ernesto) who is forced to reconcile with his own atheism after receiving a shocking appeal from the Church requesting his participation in the canonization of his "saintly" mother.
The Church supports the claim that Ernestos mother held miraculous healing powers, but if she is going to be ordained, the Church needs to prove that her violent death, at the hands of the most unlikeliest person, culminated with a vow of forgiveness for her murderer. Ernestos relationship to the murderer provides the Church with its last chance of uncovering the truth, but he is reluctant to succumb to his familys pressure and schemes. Overwhelmed by the fact that he didnt sense the conspiracy beneath him, the conflicts haunting him come to the fore and his memory of his mother opens up a gaping chasm that forces him to reconsider the past and live the present differently.
My Mother's Smile
, directed by Marco Bellochio (Fists in the Pocket)
who is known for challenging Catholisms stronghold in Italian culture, tells the story of the making of a modern-day saint. Painter Ernesto Picciafuocco's (Sergio Castellitto) mother is about to be canonized, after papal hearings determine whether or not she forgave her other son, Egidio, while he was murdering her. Following the crime, family friend Fillipo Argenti is miraculously healed while thinking of her, solidifying her nomination. Ernesto, an atheist, considers supporting this falsity for the wellbeing and wealth of the family, and for his son, Leonardo, who has growing interest in Catholicism. Leonardo's mother, Irene (Jacqueline Lustig), separated from Ernesto, also urges him to comply with the Cardinal's process. Ernesto, torn between establishing the truth and satisfying his family, embarks on an arduous journey of self-investigation, reinforcing his beliefs that morality is based in honesty rather than on standards dictated by organized religion. Beautifully composed, and well written, My Mother's Smile
offers a sophisticated view of sainthood, one acknowledging both its spiritual and political aspects. Ernesto's liberal-minded, philosophical approach to the topic makes heavy religion more palatable while emphasizing the Vatican's cultural influence on Rome. Extras include an interview with Sergio Castellitto, a conversation between Castellitto and Bellochio, and a mini-documentary, "A Day on the Set." --Trinie Dalton