July 29, 2021

the time of mourning and forgiveness


To say that young Croatian director Jure Pavlovic’s first feature film is fiction would be an exaggeration. The situation – a mother plagued by an inescapable illness -, the region – the one where the 36-year-old Croatian director grew up -, the secondary characters – inspired by real life – and the lines – reproduced from memories of conversation – attest to a strong autobiographical imprint and a work as close as possible to realism.

To say, on the contrary, that it would be a documentary would be just as reckless. It is precisely in this interlude that his power and grace reside, carried by the exceptional Daria Lorenci-Flatz, who, through her sober and natural play, maintains the film in this “at the same time” of documentary and fiction.

This 45-year-old actress plays Jasna, married with two children. Well settled and happy in her life as a Berlin immigrant, she must return to the village in Croatia where she grew up. Her mother, Anka (Neva Rosic), is seriously ill. How long will his stay last? Everything will depend on their respective resistance.

Slow agony

For Anka, it’s about survival; for Jasna, to endure this forced face-to-face with a dominant and cantankerous woman who did not leave her with only good memories. The mother lives in regret for the death of her beloved husband and son, her heroes. She shows no tenderness for her daughter. The proximity of his end does not seem to have given him more humanity.

“Mother and daughter” is a fair and sometimes joyful and ironic work

To account for this almost toxic presence of Anka who, despite her illness, continues to want to rule her world, Jure Pavlovic had the good idea to film her first in the background, a little blurry, like a memory that ‘we would have liked to bury it. Little by little, as Jasna goes beyond the resentment, the annoyances, the desire to leave, Anka appears more and more clear, until invading the last shots, when death becomes inevitable.

Film of a slow agony, of prevented love and the forgiveness necessary to deliver oneself from the sufferings inflicted by loved ones, Mother and daughter is undoubtedly out of season, at a time when the “liberation” represented by the reopening of the terraces is celebrated with obligatory joy. Yet it is a fair and sometimes joyful and ironic work. Film of a homecoming for Jasna, it also carries with it the nostalgia that the uprooted feel when they return to where they grew up, whatever memories they have of it. Mother and daughter is also a return to life.

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