VIFF 2016: Mother (Emma)


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      Reflecting its characters, a calm warmth and an enduring patience permeate this tale—adapted from Alberthiene Endah’s novel Athirah—of a family quietly torn within by a father’s polygamy.

      A pregnant Emma becomes aware that her husband, a trading-company owner, is not always leaving for business. The awareness spreads through the family silently, with a gloom falling over them and much of the film. As Emma’s teenage son Ucu attempts to fill in for his father, he faces fallout from his father’s reputation in his own social life. Amid scenes of sarong fabrics and family meals, a pained Emma strives to surmount the emotional challenges of the situation in her own low-key way. While filmmaker Riri Riza employs classical cinematic construction, he upends expectations with unique flourishes and indirect narrative codas, making the most of the unspoken but tense spaces between characters. Beautifully done.

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