Elena Knows (2023)

Elena Knows (2023)

A moving mother-daughter drama based on a Booker Prize shortlist novel

7.5

Movie

Argentina
Spanish
Drama
2023
ANAHÍ BERNERI, FEMALE DIRECTOR
Agustina Muñoz, Erica Rivas, Marcos Montes
100 min

TLDR

You can never tell who has it worse, the mother or the daughter.

What it's about

As Elena's Parkinson diagnosis is getting worse, she is on a quest to find out what truly happened to her dead daughter, Rita.

The take

After working on Prime's TV series Verdict, Argentinian director Anahí Berneri has now made her Netflix debut with Elena Knows, a mother-daughter drama based on the book of the same name by famous novelist Claudia Piñeiro (International Booker Prize Shortlist). Berneri has not lost her arthouse touch, on the contrary, Elena Knows looks lush and minimal at the same time. With the use of shallow focus, the cinematography presents the world as an inhospitable place to the protagonist, Elena (Mercedes Morán, recently in Netflix's The Kingdom), whose advanced Parkinson's robs her of her agency, day after day. Very early on in the film, she loses her daughter and carer, Rita (Erica Rivas you might know from Wild Tales), and her absence leaves a gaping hole in the life of the grubby elderly woman. Berneri's newest film owns up to its investigative thriller elements as Elena insists her daughter has been murdered, but at its heart, it holds a paradox: that of maternal love and parental hatred. 

What stands out

Mercedes Morán is a stunning lead, not only because she's well seasoned and a decades-long star of Argentinian cinema, but also due to her quiet and stoic performance as Elena. Throughout the film's runtime, we are by her side, sharing her impeded movements, her slow advances, the struggles to get up and sit down. The tone of the film is sombre and heavy with inadmissible guilt which then materializes as Rita, visions or memories of her at places she once accompanied her mother to. Elena sees her as a teenager, or as she was on the day she was found dead, and she doesn't even flinch. Morán is an exquisitely controlled actress, whose discipline belongs to a classic age of filmmaking, and in such a subdued film, she is the perfect fit. 

Comments

Add a comment

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

Nowhere (2023)

A riveting Spanish Netflix survival thriller brought to life in Anna Castillo’s performance

7.8

Victoria (2015)

Filmed in one continuous take and in real time on the streets of Berlin, ‘Victoria’ immerses the viewer in a heart-stopping drama

9.8

Society of the Snow (2023)

J.A. Bayona remembers the humanity, not the sensationalism, of the Andes miracle

8.2

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Pedro Almodóvar made his international breakthrough through this chaotic screwball melodrama

8.0

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Compassionate filmmaking reconstructing a 24-hour police brutality story – with a stunning lead by Michael B. Jordan

9.7

Familia (2023)

A tense and confrontational family gathering in an idyllic Mexican olive ranch

7.0

A Most Violent Year (2014)

A stunning drama with excellent performances

8.0

Entre Nos (2009)

An immigrant mother's first summer in New York

7.6

Holy Spider (2022)

A timely and terrifying noir that takes on systemic abuse and corruption in Iran

8.0

I Have Electric Dreams (2023)

A searing, beautifully acted coming-of-age drama about the collapse of a family

7.8

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.