- Director: Beniamino Barrese
- Writer: Beniamino Barrese
Benedetta Barzini does Greta Garbo...I want to be alone! She wants to disappear.
What makes this film/portrait a little bizarre [and hard to swallow] is that she throws herself...onto any old catwalk, in front of any old camera...and then, there's this film! Not exactly the way to go when you want to disappear!
It would be an understatement to say that Ms Barzini is a tough, difficult, opinionated woman...she's definitely hard-work...as is this film. It's all just a bit too oedipal...her son, the filmmaker, is besotted with his mother and - weirdly - decided to share his feelings with the rest of the world.
And...just when you think it can't get any weirder...it does. He brings in younger models and dresses them like his mother [as she was in her heyday] replete with fake mole! Absolutely bamboozling and pointless.
Although this is a film about Benedetta Barzini...but, with all the various detours, it really does become more about the filmmaker himself. Now, there are two ways of interpreting this film...is this a premature obituary? Or, a vicarious stab at fame? Whatever it is, there's something not quite right about it...whether it be the abject invasion of privacy or the unnerving obsession, it's film that needed some objectivity. Being too close to the subject is fraught with difficulties...here they all are!
Benedetta Barzini is a revered Italian model who shattered stereotypes by becoming a journalist and professor and gained notoriety by publicly critiquing the fashion industry’s deep-seated misogyny. But now, in her 70s, Barzini’s distaste for the world of images has deepened into an existential crisis. Quietly and without warning, she packs her belongings and tells her son Beniamino she intends to disappear from the material world forever. Alarmed, Beniamino devises a plan he hopes will allow her to confront—instead of flee—the very thing she most distrusts: the camera. By capturing her on film, he intends to salvage his mother’s true essence and preserve her narrative.
The Disappearance of My Mother is a radical documentary born out of a series of confrontations between a mother eager to set herself free and a son desperate to use the medium of film to keep her close. What begins as a deeply personal fight for control transforms into a profoundly collaborative project, one that attempts to rectify decades of harm inflicted by the camera’s oppressive gaze.