Film Reviews Capsules: Don't Call Me Son (2016), Anna Muylaert
Original Title: Mãe Só Há Uma
Luciana Paes...Tia Iara
Directed and Written by Anna Muylaert
Cinematography by Barbara Alvarez
Music by Berna Ceppas
Film Editing by Helio Villela
Production Design by Thales Junqueira
Costume Design by Diogo Costa
Pierre is a 17 years-old teenager like any other. He lives with his mother Aracy and his sister Jacqueline in a low middle class neighborhood in São Paulo . Pierre likes to present himself as being androgynous. Even, when this presentation is limited to himself in the own bathroom. He is part of a garage band either. At certain day his world and of his family suffers a breakdown. His mother goes to prison accused of robbed him and his sister from a maternity. He knows now his original name is Felipe. His biological parents, Gloria and Matheus
and his younger half-brother Joca, from an upper social status, had a first and tense meeting in a restaurant. With them the social worker Suely. The things does not come better when Pierre/Felipe needs to be apart from Jaqueline and to shock all, mainly his father, begin to dressing himself as a woman.
The movie focuses on the absence of identity stability in the contemporary world, something that appears before the dramatic conflicts begin. The ambiguous Pierre shows, in a certain way, the difficulties of such radical changes in so short time. He comes to use his androgynous attitude like a kind of bargaining chip. Muylaert, the director, adds the gender dimension, even more valued to contemporary sensibilities, to class estrangement of her prior movie, “Que Horas Ela Volta?” aka “The Second Mother”. Vigorously, she gambles again on the overriding presence of nonprofessional actors to important roles. Or actors that have had a modest cinematographic career, like Nefussi, that bravely acts as the two mothers. It concludes in some precarious key or, who knows, much attuned to Muylaert tastes (melodrama, fait divers). Like in “The Second Mother”, the catharsis, more modest here, illustrates the family union mood, starting with a kindly gesture by Joca, probably linked to Pierre’s explosion of feelings. In it, Pierre, or better Felipe, had said his life was stolen twice. Although the craft performances and the dynamic rhythm, it isn't built the focal point of another important character, the “new” brother Joca and when something is tried in that sense, is only a raw sketch that sounds inorganic. That is the case when we saw a phone call to him or a misguided attempt of school flirtation. Its abrupt final cut any possibility to probe many questions that the film observes but not develop; and, like in the prior production, this option results in a relative easy way that deflates the important conflicts that are so well crafted.
I would like to thanks my British friend Daniel Fisher for the support