‘107 Mothers’ (‘Cenzorka’): Film Review

107 Moms, a visually compelling movie about girls residing and dealing in a Ukrainian jail, opens with the piercing screams of a mom and her youngster. Leysa (Maryna Klimova), a brand new inmate, is giving delivery in a dour hospital room, underneath the gentle, watchful gaze of Iryna (Iryna Kiryazeva), the jail’s ward. The connection between these two girls, teeming with anxiousness, suspicion and, ultimately, an understated mutual respect, turns into the focus of this quiet docufiction.

Directed by Peter Kerekes and premiering within the Venice Movie Pageant’s Horizons sidebar, 107 Moms pulls its materials from the real-life tales of incarcerated girls residing at Odessa Correctional Facility Quantity 74, certainly one of two in Ukrainian prisons the place pregnant girls can serve their sentences with their kids. The brutal phrases and situations state, although, that after the kid turns 3, they are going to be despatched to an orphanage and eternally separated from their mom. If a girl is fortunate and her sentence ends across the youngster’s third birthday, she will apply for parole.

107 Moms

The Backside Line

Visually compelling however narratively missing.

Venue: Venice Movie Pageant (Horizons)
Forged: Maryna Klimova, Iryna Kiryazeva, Lyubov Vasylyna
Director: Peter Kerekes
Screenwriters: Peter Kerekes, Ivan Ostrochovskyy


1 hour 33 minutes

The ladies on this correctional facility reside an undramatic life dominated by routine. They wash, sleep and work collectively as hours soften into days and days into weeks. Moments of solitude (or privateness) don’t exist. They conduct private cellphone calls in public and reply intensely detailed well being questions within the presence of a number of medical doctors. It’s right here — continually underneath surveillance — that Leysa, a restrained, observant younger girl, will serve her seven-year jail sentence. When requested why she murdered her husband, Leysa solutions, with out have an effect on, “Jealousy.”

Jealousy is an emotion most of the girls within the jail can relate to. By way of a collection of one-on-one interviews, these girls confess the logic behind their murders. Their responses — some tearful, others chilling and stoic — add texture to the movie, elevating questions on regret and forgiveness. These interviews, performed by Iryna, happen in the identical room, a number of instances a day, with the ladies sitting towards the identical drab backdrop: an empty chair with an opulent burgundy cushion to the left, a sink within the again, a mirror above it and a wood door to the fitting.

107 Moms thrives on this sort of consideration to element and uniformity. Cinematographer Martin Kollar’s regular eye and distinctive visible model makes watching Kerekes’ movie really feel like slowly flipping by means of a photobook. Look carefully and each shot, from the best way the moms sit on the sofa the place they breastfeed their kids to the appears to be like on their faces once they bake truffles for his or her kids’s birthdays, tells its personal story.

It’s disappointing, then, that the meticulousness of the movie’s visible language doesn’t translate to its narrative, which often will get misplaced. After giving delivery, Leysa joins the ranks of incarcerated moms who lengthy for the few hours of the day they’ll spend with their kids. She struggles to regulate to her new life in jail, discovering herself tired of the schedule, which incorporates attending workshops led by Iryna the place the ladies write letters to these they’ve harmed and express regret.

Iryna, the reserved warden, watches Leysa’s sluggish, uneven adjustment. She takes a eager curiosity in her and tries, in her personal means, to advise the younger girl to restore her relationship together with her mom and sister in order that when her son turns 3, they’ll look after him. What prompts this need is rarely explored, nevertheless it’s clear that Iryna, to some extent, feels chargeable for Leysa’s destiny. She even grows connected to Leysa’s son, spending time with him in her workplace and holding him occupied with small duties. Iryna spends a lot of the movie confronting her personal burgeoning need to be a mom, whereas Leysa tries to retain her parental rights.

By its finish, 107 Moms, maybe unwittingly, turns into a meditation on motherhood and its completely different varieties. Essentially the most attention-grabbing conversations — between Leysa and Iryna, between Iryna and her personal mom — contact on the simultaneous pleasure and isolation of being a mom. Whereas the movie suggests these characters possess unbelievable depth, the overly restrained performances maintain viewers too far at bay. With no clear sense of why these girls are drawn to one another or perception into what retains them related, it’s troublesome to really feel absolutely invested on this experimental movie’s poignant thesis.

Leave a Comment