2016 Tribeca Film Festival presents Mother (Ema)

| April 14, 2016

Mother (Ema) by Kadri Kõusaar is a darkly comic, crime mystery set in small-town Estonia, and it centers on Elsa, the full time caretaker of her comatose son, Lauri, and the locals, who are abuzz with rumors about who shot Lauri and why. But in this tight-knit town, where everyone seems to know everyone and everything except for what’s right under their nose, the world’s clumsiest crime may go unsolved.

This movie has been described as having a Fargo feel to it, and it does. Everybody is a busy body, coming and going back into the bedroom of Lauri, after he has been shot. The movie doesn’t reveal at first just how he was shot. But there are a slew of fellow school teachers and students, lovers and plain old buddies who come by to visit to talk to him, even though there’s hardly any movement from him.

His mother is at her wit’s end taking care of him, but she also seems to be having an affair right under her husband’s nose. It is quite a quiet, sleepy town, but the cops and other folks are concerned about just how Lauri was able to amass such a great amount of money—and then the question lingers as to just what he did with it.

His girlfriend is all aflutter because she and Lauri had planned to buy a home together, and now she is out of funds and essentially out of luck. You feel for Lauri’s mother, because she seems alone in the daily ritual of taking care of him, save for the caretaker that comes in who doesn’t seem too interested in her charge. She methodically moves him around, washes him and changes the linen with not much passion.

I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how there could be so many people coming in and out of the bedroom where Lauri has been situated, making confessions of sorts and snooping around looking for clues as to his shooting, when, in fact, the case is still open, and a perpetrator hadn’t been charged in his shooting.

The speed picks up a bit, when police sort of figure out who may have been behind what began as an ATM robbery that went bad. I enjoyed this film, even though I felt bad for the main players. Lauri’s mother was just holding on and lacking the help and attention and/or affection from her husband. However, she seems to make up for it with the attention that she was getting from one of Lauri’s fellow teachers. And then..it all unravels—in true Fargo fashion. With bold stylized brush strokes the director brings this small community to life.

Mother is playing in the International Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival. Cast members include Tiina Mälberg, Jaan Pehk, Andres Tabun, Andres Noormets, Rea Lest, Jaak Prints and Siim Maatenand, and it is produced by Estonia-based Meteoriit, which is headed by producer Aet Laigu. The film, with English subtitles, is screening at Tribeca during the following times: April 16 at 7:45 PM; April 18 at 4:00 PM and April 22 at 7:45 PM. For more information, visit https://mail.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/mother-2016

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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