Marseille: you only have two mothers in this world
by Alfonso Rivera
- The release in Spain of the second movie by Belén Macías, a road movie that looks at the conflicts leading to foster care
Six years have passed since My Prison Yard [+see also:
film profile], Belén Macías’ first work, obtained four Goya nominations. In that time, the filmmaker from Tarragona has focused on TV series. We see some indications of this experience in the mise-en-scène of her second feature film, Marseille [+see also:
film profile], a road movie whose greatest risk is the slow feed of information, during the first minutes and using flash-backs, about the recent past of the girl protagonist. Once it becomes clear that this child has been brought up in the home of a rich family, which has fostered her, all that’s left is to meet the two mothers – the biological mother and the teacher – so that the drama can kick off.
The script, written by the director herself along with Aitor Gabilondo and Verónica Fernández, shows on screen a sensitive issue that has caused some controversy, publicised by the Spanish press. Here we will meet Claire (played by the sound debutante Noa Fontanals Fourgnaud), a ten-year-old girl who since she was four has lived in the care of Virginia (Goya Toledo), a well-to-do woman who can’t have children. But when Sara (María León, in her common inner-city register similar to the one she offers in Carmina and Amen [+see also:
film profile]), the natural mother, manages to recover from her multiple drug addictions, the judge returns her parental right and she picks up Claire, in a borrowed car with a surprise inside, to head off from Madrid to Marseille so that her daughter can meet her father. On the way, as readers will have probably guessed, mother and daughter will gradually get to know each other, and the showdown between the two women who love Claire so dearly will become more dramatic.
The fact is the theme of the well-meaning Marseille succumbs to various clichés, aside from some difficult-to-believe attitudes: eg, the odd metaphor (the fickle person), the self-help literature stock; and then the guardian-angel truck drivers (who have fantastic charisma thanks to Eduard Fernández and Álex Moner); Claire’s exaggerated maturity (capable, at just four years of age, of carrying out actions worthy of an adult); and, above all, the behaviour of the two mothers confronted, which is much more subdued than what reality, in similar cases, has shown.
Although Macías makes us empathise with María León’s character, a woman who doesn’t commune with the most politically correct side of life (bourgeois), in the end the film – sugar-sweet – opts for a sentimentality/good vibe that wrecks any shadow of critique of a legal-social system that places more value on blood ties than on emotional upbringing/experience, unlike the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son, by Hirokazu Koreeda which does criticise the system.
Marseille [+see also:
film profile] is released in cinemas on 18 July in Spain, produced by Tornasol Films, Messidor Films and Balada triste de trompeta AIE, with the participation of TVE and Canal Plus. International sales are being managed by Latido Films.
(Translated from Spanish)