Milla Screen 96 of 6 reviews

Milla

2017

Milla Poster
  • A quietly moving and unassumingly profound film about growing up, young motherhood, and life’s chance occurrences... Instead of distancing the viewer from the drama, the film’s bifurcated structure and Massadian’s casually radical approach to time—the narrative is more than once breached by unexpected conflations of music and memory—yield a strikingly tangible sense of accumulated experience, forming a beautifully symmetrical whole.

  • With more of a contemplative style with very little dialogue, the strength of this work shines in the great acting and the film’s mise-en-scene. All the compositions are very well-thought, with the environment embracing Milla’s struggle through natural-lit fixed shots. The cinematography is almost like an art piece.

  • Massadian cast in the title role a real-life teenage mum living in a shelter for single young mothers. Milla/Severine’s mix of tenderness and street-wise toughness makes for one of the most memorable portraits at Locarno this year: vulnerable yet incredibly self-contained. This is no doubt thanks to Massadian’s insistence on connecting to the real world, however thorny or even limiting it might be, creating fictive situations yet drawing on emotions that cut awfully close to home.

  • In Massadian's hands, the minor and the major are one and the same... Rather than slotting into some sort of narrative arc or dramatic structure, each of these moments and the others like them are merely concerned with establishing an atmosphere of intimacy and empathy, which grows in intensity to an almost unbearable degree as the film moves toward its finale.

  • The inexhaustible pleasure of a cat’s inscrutable, unpredictable behavior and on-screen charisma is lovingly touched in Massadian’s somber drama of low-wage domestic loneliness. The cat is a touch of solace and spontaneity in a household haunted by a missing spouse.

  • The singular, intoxicating beauty of Massadian's images, carefully arranged and divided with layers of shifting light and contrasting texture, is a good fit for a narrative of surrender, in which Leo and Milla must make concessions to each other and the demands of everyday life. But the structural gamble Massadian makes halfway through faltered for me: the second half is overly indebted to mirroring and wringing significance out of the first half, sometimes without a clear dynamic of its own.

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