I just saw Mama, the debut feature from Russian couple Nickolay and Yelena Renard. A relatively short film at only 71 minutes, it felt very long. This was probably due to the fact that there was no dialogue and the average shot length was around 6 minutes. The story is one of an overbearing mother and her obese son (we were told he weighs 217kg) and the relationship they share. The film has an observational look, limiting the movements of the camera and letting the audience appreciate the mise-en-scene. Mama is not for the impatient, (in fact the woman next to me fell asleep and woke up for the end credits) and at times I wished for a cut and it did not come – the bathing of the fat man for instance. Far too long. Or when the mother peeled egg shells off eggs for literally 10 minutes. The simplicity of the structure was apparently indicative of their relationship and distance from the outside world and the extremes to which the mother was metaphorically wrapping her son in cotton wool (although in one scene she literally wrapped his head in cotton wool because he had an ear infection or something). I enjoyed the directors talking about the film; they were very passionate about it, but I found watching less interesting because there was no climax to the story, it felt more like a slice of life.

– Flossie Topping


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