HomeCiak In MostraCiak In Mostra 2023Movie of the day: Memory by Michel Franco

Movie of the day: Memory by Michel Franco


Venezia 80 – In competition

Messico, Usa, 2023, Director Michel Franco, Cast Jessica Chastain, Peter Sarsgaard, Brooke Timber, Merritt Wever, Elsie Fisher, Jessica Harper, Josh Charles, Running Time 100

Despite initial doubts – related to protests by U.S. actors and screenwriters – Jessica Chastain will also walk the red carpet at the 80th Venice International Film Festival this year to accompany Michel Franco’s Memory. The second English-language film of the Mexican director (after 2015’s Chronic, starring Tim Roth) is a drama shot in New York City. Peter Sarsgaard joins Chastain in the movie that will also attend Toronto’s TIFF and 71st San Sebastian Film Festival (along with Garrone, Bayona and Hamaguchi). It is nice welcoming back Franco at Lido. He was a jury member in 2017 and competed for Golden Lion in 2020 with Nuevo Orden (Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize in 2020) and the year after with Sundown.

Two titles that had raised controversy in the past, an interest described as “flattering” by Franco, who was “happy” that his work was able to spark specific conversations and who, in this case, said he wanted to make “a film about people who for whatever reason get lost in the meshes of society, about their inability, or unwillingness, to conform to expectations, often rooted in facts that exist only in their memories” with the belief that “sometimes it is marginalization itself that offers an escape from the shadows of the past, a chance to build a life in the present.”

Shadows are the focus of Memory, together with the relationship between Sylvia and Saul after a reunion of former classmates. The woman, a New York social worker employed at a facility for adults with mental health issues, lives a simple, organized life, divided between her daughter and her work. That falls apart when Saul follows her home after the party, forcing her to confront the past.

An “original” story, for which he did not look elsewhere for inspiration, as the director himself is keen to emphasize, confirming a particular interest in people condemned to feel ‘out of place’ – as happened to him – and confessing great admiration for people who “dedicate their lives to helping others.” “They are taken for granted. They are invisible,” Franco concludes. – Rather, we must try to understand them. They are doing something abnormal in our society, where everyone is doing the opposite.”

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