Again Once Again review – elegant meditation on the pains of motherhood | Drama films

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A woman leaves her boyfriend to visit her mum in Buenos Aires, taking their three-year-old son with her – not sure yet if it’s a holiday or a breakup. She hasn’t worked since her son was born and is having an emotional and intellectual crisis. She feels almost nonexistent. “I don’t see myself. Who am I?”

This is an elegant, elusive debut from the Argentinian playwright Romina Paula, who picks away at the fantasy that motherhood leads to instant fulfilment. Her film is like an arthouse version of the sitcoms Motherland and Catastrophe, with fewer laughs and more philosophical introspection. It has the feel of a feminist essay that has been semi-dramatised for screen – with Paula starring as a fictional version of herself and her real-life mum and son Ramón playing themselves.

On her first night back in Buenos Aires, Romina leaves a long message on her best friend’s phone. People warned her that the first months with a baby would be hard, she says, but it’s been three years. She loves her son but finds being a mother overwhelming and oppressive. Her conflict is cleverly dramatised in a scene where she is getting ready to go out with friends, her first night out in who knows how long.

As she puts on her makeup, trying remember how to be this version of herself, her little boy bangs his toy drum incessantly in the room next door – it’s as if he’s telling her: “You can’t switch me off.” Newish mothers often talk to each other about these feelings, but it’s interesting how radical, almost unsayable, they still seem on screen.

Nothing much happens. Romina’s mum looks after her son while she works as a private tutor giving German lessons. There are a couple of tentative romantic encounters that go nowhere. Romina doesn’t speak much, but Paula’s face is beautifully expressive; the camera is constantly nudging up closer, to see what it’s saying. She unpicks her feelings in the monologue that gives the movie that essay feel – wandering into subjects as varied as her family’s German ancestry and Argentina’s young feminists, known as the green movement. Some might find her style, leaving no thought unexamined, a bit rambling, but Paula is doing something interesting here.

• Again Once Again is available on Mubi from 29 July.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Again Once Again review – elegant meditation on the pains of motherhood | Drama films

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