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Movie Review: “The Eyes of My Mother”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 12/2/2016

Theatrical Release: 12/2/2016

Synopsis

Francisca (Olivia Bond) lives in a quiet farmhouse with her mother and father. She has not been raised like most kids her age, however. Her parents taught her skills that she can use around the farm, but Francisca has had little human interaction outside of her mother and father. The family lives a happy farm lifestyle, but all of that is about to change.

When a killer posed as a door-to-door salesman comes across the remote farmhouse, he changes all of their lives forever. After a series of tragic events befall Francisca’s family, the now adult Francisca (Kika Magalhaes) is sent down a dark path. She developed a twisted view of love and death that has had a lasting impact on her interactions with other people. She was once an innocent young girl, but after what happened to her family all those years ago, those who end up crossing paths with the adult Francisca will most likely wish they had not.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Francisca (+6pts)

Slow Burn (-6pts)

Kika Magalhaes (+5pts)

Francisca’s Father (-3pts)

Charlie (+3pts)

The Protagonist (-5pts)

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Pro: Francisca (+6pts)

It was fascinating to see the impact that the childhood trauma had on Francisca. It was captivating to see the story of what happened to Francisca in her youth. However, I found it even more captivating to see how she responded to that trauma after so many years. This story was a slow-burn, but it was about Francisca‘s path to the dark side—excuse the Star Wars reference—and it was a compelling one.

Francisca had little social interaction as a child, but she had her parents. After the trauma that her family tragically experienced, Francisca was never quite the same. Grown from being just a socially awkward, innocent girl, her adult self had dark fantasies of violence, sadistic torture, and even murder. The character went through an incredible arc, as it was clear her mind had broken after what happened, and it did not heal quite right. She clearly struggled to process and make sense of what happened when she was a child, and without outside human interactions, that struggle manifested in horrific ways. Francisca’s story was tragic, it was compelling, and it was violent. Francisca's story was basically the origin story of a villain, and it made this character horrifically fascinating.

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Con: Slow Burn (-6pts)

I liked the character story, but I felt like the movie dragged, especially in the beginning. I am all for a good slow-burn, but the slower sections still need to be interesting. This movie was only about an hour and fifteen minutes long. It was a quick watch, but I got the impression that the filmmakers only had about 45 minutes of interesting material.

Rather than take the time to create a longer, more interesting story, the filmmakers just stretched out the little that they had. This was definitely the lazy approach, and it resulted in some slow, boring sections of this move. A slow-burn does not have to be eventful—otherwise it would not really be a slow burn, would it—but they need to be interesting, even in the slowest sections, and this movie was not. With this story, there were a few sections that were so slow and boring that I almost turned off the movie. There was still an interesting story in here, but you have to struggle through these uneventful and uninteresting sections first.

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Pro: Kika Magalhaes (+5pts)

While Olivia Bond did a decent enough job with the childhood portion of Francisca’s story, Kika Magalhaes was incredible as the adult version. You could see every bit of the character’s insanity and darkness on her face. Even in the character’s more calm moments, it was clear that there was something twisted boiling beneath the surface, and it made this character hard to look away from. She really just made the character so much more fascinating than she could have been.

Kika Magalhaes gave the character layers, and she made it clear that the character did not entirely understand what she was doing, because she simply did not know any better. Ever since she was a child, Francisca was all too familiar with murder, violence, and pain. The actress in the role played this character's horrific actions with an almost innocence, while somehow simultaneously showing the character’s sick pleasure with what she was doing. It might seem like those two things should be mutually exclusive, but Kika Magalhaes managed to do both simultaneously. The movie had its flaws, but Francisca was the best thing about this movie, and I thought Kika Magalhaes was the primary reason why.

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Pro: Francisca’s Father (-3pts)

I will keep this really brief because I do not want to spoil anything. That being said, it was really unclear what happened to Francisca’s father. Given the movie’s short runtime, and given the fact that the filmmakers had to stretch it out to even reach that short runtime, I am a little confused as to why the filmmakers did not give more screentime to what happened to Francisca’s father. The filmmakers treated it as a sort of passing thought, when it could have been a big impactful moment that added a lot to Francisca’s story. Not giving it almost any focus just felt like a missed opportunity.

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Pro: Charlie (+3pts)

This character was so interesting, because in any other story, he would have been the clear antagonist. In this story, however, he got himself into a really, really bad situation. I do not want to give this away, but this movie made me sympathize with this character, despite the horrible thing I knew he had done. The filmmakers did this so effectively that I had to keep reminding myself who this character was, as well as what he had done.

Charlie (Will Brill) was not a good man, not by any stretch of the imagination. He was a terrible person, who deserved every bad thing that came his way. Francisca, however, was absolutely twisted and demented. What happened to Charlie was just as horrific as—if not more horrific than—what he himself had done to others. That is not to say he did not deserve it, but the filmmakers did a really good job of playing with the audience's opinion of this character. You will want to hate him, but you will keep feeling bad for him anyway, and that made this a really interesting character for me.

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Con: The Protagonist (-5pts)

One thing that this story was missing was a protagonist that the audience could get behind. Francisca was the protagonist, in a loose definition of the word, as she was the main character. However, Francisca was not relatable, because of the terrible things she was doing. I just felt like this movie could have been a lot better if the audience had a relatable character to root for.

It could have been as simple as giving more development to one of the innocent characters that already crossed paths with Francisca in this movie. It also could have been a new character all together, but by not having a single, constant character to root for, the movie felt like it was missing something. It was like you were just a fly on the wall, watching a bad person do terrible things. A “good" protagonist, would have helped pull us into the story, and it would have helped get us engaged in what was happening, as opposed to feeling like the disconnected observer that this movie ended up making me feel like.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (75pts)

The Eyes of My Mother was a strong character story about a young woman who experienced a tragic event when she was a young girl. She then grew into a twisted, deranged young women with a thirst for violence. It was really fascinating to see this character story play out, and Kika Magalhaes was captivating in the lead role. Unfortunately, the filmmakers struggled a bit in bringing this story to the screen.

Francisca's story was a slow burn, and slow burn stories like this one can be really good, but the filmmakers did not bring enough interesting material to the story's slower sections. The movie was only a little over an hour, but they had enough interesting material for about 45 minutes. Rather than give focus to more interesting parts of this story—such as the fate of Francisca's father—the filmmakers decided to drag out the little story that they did have. Additionally, the story was missing a primary protagonist for the viewer to relate to—as Francisca was the main character, but she was not exactly relatable or easy to root for. This made me feel somewhat removed from the events I was watching, as opposed to being sucked into the story. The movie had potential, as the character story was a very interesting one, but the filmmakers struggled to bring this story to the screen properly.

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