Mamma Gógó

It's the Nordic Film Festival in Lübeck again, an I was finally able to visit on a Friday. It is much better with fewer people queuing for the films. The only problem is that they are showing three Icelandic films at the same time! Are there so many people interested in Icelandic films?

My first choice had to be Fridrik Thor Fridriksson's new film "Mamma Gógó". It is a typical FTF film with sly references to previous films of his - "Bórn nátturnir" (Children of Nature, nominated for an Oscar) and "Biódagar" (Movie Days). The film insists that only parts of the film are autobiographical, and he won't say what parts.

As the film is introduced and the director's apologies are given for not being there, my neighbor - also a filmmaker - whispers that he's got a bad alcohol problem. There is a reference to this in the film, when the mother says to her son that he handles his alcohol well, he replies "Sure, I only drink until the bottle is empty."

But back to the story. "Children of Nature" was about two elderly people who run away from the home in which they live. "Mamma Gógó" is about the mother of the director (the latter is portrayed nicely by the very handsome Hilmir Snaer Gudnason). She is 80 years old and suffering from Alzheimer's.

FTF portrays the decline - forgetting things, or thinking that one is forgetting things, mood swings, bitter accusations about loved ones, and finally that blank look that I know so well from my own mother who is in the same situation. FTF's character sits in her room, the tears in his eyes, saying to his mother that he should have told her earlier how much she means to him - and asking her where she has gone.

There are many small stories woven into the film: money problems, the decline of Icelandic culture, the rise and fall of the Icelandic company Decode. And some quite funny scenes, for example how Gógó manages to get herself out of a drunk-driving accusation, or the old car driving by without a visible driver.

The film is intercut with black and white images from a 1962 Gógó film - are these the same actors now playing Gógó and her husband, who is the obligatory ghost in the scene? Speaking of obligatory - Icelandic films have to have three elements: beautiful Icelandic nature, a ghost, and a pissing scene. The pissing scene has a twist this time - it is the mother who has to go, and her son helps her out of her diaper and into a fresh one in a touching reversal of the caretaker role.

The beautiful Icelandic nature - shot at Borgarnes and  S...fjörd - makes me long to return. The sounds made by the gentleman playing the saw with a violin bow remind me of the whistling of the wind in Ísafjördur one night I was out watching Northern Lights. Eerie, moving, deep.

I don't think it will be a box office hit, but for an FTF fan it was great. The film brings us face to face with a rapidly approaching future, when we are ourselves old and cannot take care of ourselves any more.

P.S. I just checked my suspicion, finally being back online with a connection to the Internet Movie Database: The actors playing FTF's mother and father are the actors in the 1962 film 79 af stöðinni - playing the lovers Gógó and Ragnar! The film is known in English as Girl Gogo. I spied this film in the credits, the black and white love scene between his mother and father must be taken from this. Sweet!

1 comment:

nammi.is said...

You can find these films online here

Mamma Gógó


Children of nature


79 á stöðinni