Jessica Chastain raises her voice in ‘Memory’, the new and somewhat overacted work by Michel Franco (***)

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Michel Franco is convinced that the famous phrase from Anna Karenina about happy families (you know, that they are so similar to each other that they don’t even deserve a sad novel) is false. And not because there is a great diversity in happiness, but simply because there are no happy families. All families, in the ideology of the most dedicated student of Haneke that Mexico has produced, are necessarily not sad, but very sad. Unhappy therefore. Michel Franco He is convinced that it is in the nature of organizing ourselves as a clan that shares genes, to argue over the remote control as a first step towards, say, abuse, pedophilia or murder. It would seem that for the director of ‘Memory‘, is the title of his new work, the family is a disease, not an institution.

And to make it clear that there is no happiness anywhere right now, even the film’s protagonist Jessica Chastain (who appeared before the press wearing a t-shirt supporting the actors’ strike) went up on stage at the press conference and She also got angry. “I am very lucky and I am aware of it, this profession is wonderful and that is why we actors are often made to feel that we have to be silent to protect future opportunities “he said, took a breath and continued: “I think it is precisely that environment that has allowed for decades abuses occur in the workplace and he is also responsible for the abusive contracts given to union members.” He was referring to the ongoing actors’ strike, which, in its own way, is also a family. Michel Franco will be right. Definitely, there is no happy family.

Be that as it may, the Mexican’s new proposal, in addition to being backed by a Chastain imperial, would be his second work filmed in English after ‘Chronic‘ (2015). Now everything revolves, as the title indicates, around the memories that hurt and the memories that, if necessary, can heal. The protagonist lives without living per se with her life given in equal parts to her job as her social worker, to her beloved teenage daughter, and to her long sessions with Alcoholics Anonymous. The actress composes her character, always in vibration, with a flaming clarity that is as surprising as it is enigmatic. Without a doubt, the best of ‘Memory‘.

One day she will find herself pursued by a man (Peter Sarsgaard) without really knowing why. She doesn’t know it and he doesn’t know it. He suffers from dementia. When they begin to know each other and even love each other, the perhaps somewhat forced circumstance will arise that everything that she wants to forget, tortured by the past of a complete and radically unhappy family, he strives to remember, harassed by an illness that takes over him, of his body and even his identity.

Again, the director of ‘After Lucía’, ‘New order‘ o ‘Sundown‘ he composes his film from the back of the screen. Everything that happens before the viewer’s eyes are just signs to be deciphered of a strange enigma that determines everything, infects everything, can do everything. It is not so much about putting together the pieces of a puzzle as it is about letting yourself be carried away by a premonition due to lack of force. The rarefied atmosphere, the slight smell of rot and the atmosphere that stings the eyes end up creating a truly suggestive scenario. And even magnetic. Very much the director.

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