The first films are a statement to establish oneself in great cinema. At first, it is difficult to determine how independent an artist is. Film director Ana Urushadze is one of the lucky exceptions, and her first full-length feature film "Scary Mother" (2017) stands out from the filmmakers of her generation in terms of its range of interests and artistic value.
It tells a seemingly simple story: the mother of the family, housewife Manana (Nato Murvanidze) is working on a book, which her husband and children and the publishers consider to be pornography and obscenity. The father considers it a bold, deep text, and the editor considers it a masterpiece. These characters, gathered around the heroine, start fighting to "save Manana." Everyone has their own truth, the way of salvation is also different. Manana has to win the main battle. It is more difficult to deal with loving people because they oppose love. Everyone's love is different.
Not only are difficult questions asked in Ana Urushadze's psychological drama but also the attempt to answer them was successful both dramaturgically and visually. I would conventionally divide the film into three parts: the first – Manana and husband and son, the second – Manana and father, the third – Manana and Nukri (stationery store owner and book editor).
The main character finds freedom. Two positions often collide in the work: a woman who lives for her family and a woman for whom personal freedom, the need for self-expression is the first priority, and at the same time she has a full-fledged family, but she cannot connect them together. In general, is it possible to combine complete independence and family? It is important that Ana Urushadze did not choose a banal way of presenting this problem. She aggravated the situation because she put her love in front of her. Family members try to help the "writer mother" in the film while waiting for her to read her own work to them. The loving husband (Dimitri Tatishvili) asks her to "tidy up" and buy new clothes, even when he burns a copy of his wife's book, offers to write a new book, promises all kinds of help. The eldest son also tries to help his mother, the family wants only one thing – for Manana to forget her first book, which they think is "cheap porn."
It turns out that there is a flying creature in the Philippines called "Manananggal" that feeds on the blood and embryos of pregnant women. In the dream, Manna transforms into this creature and flies. Nato Murvanidze's Manana is a person detached from everyday reality, immersed in the world of thoughts, fantasy and dreams. Manana's bad habit of making notes for the book not in a notebook but on her hands is impressive, which is the leitmotif of the entire film. From the very first episodes, Manana's book is referred to as a masterpiece by Nukri (Ramaz Yoseliani), the owner of the stationery store in the neighborhood, who refers to himself as a critic and book editor, trying to interest publishers. After a negative answer, he gives Manana a typewriter for her birthday to print her future masterpieces. The actor introduces us to an unsuccessful creator who uses his unspent potential for a talented woman, who finds it difficult to say to himself that Manana is his "dream woman."
"You are a copy of your father and your crazy mother!" – this is the last reproach that Manana heard from her husband. The father figure is crucial in the film. His role is played by the corresponding actor, whom, unfortunately, we rarely see on the screen, this is Avtandil Makharadze. The father does not know whose work he is translating until the end of the book and, at the same time, of the film. This intrigue also arouses another interest - the translator realizes that the unknown author of the book is a woman: "This is a bold, deep text... it has an extraordinary narrative style..." Father and daughter are not only connected by this book but only these two see various images on the tiles in Manana’s bathroom wife and mother’s death follow them, this is a woman who committed suicide but is always by her husband and daughter's side, her jewelry is usually on the dresser, and there are many pictures of her on the wall. We also learn that the mother also appears in Manana's book because the work is based on the author's diaries, and "the main character of this novel is fear" which turned an ordinary housewife into a monster, a vampire.
The fine side of the film (cameraman – Mindia Esadze, production designer – Tea Telia) is so correctly and precisely "adjusted" to the dramaturgy, as if it should not interfere with it. No extra details, the colors are faded, only Manana's work room, arranged by editor Nukri, glows red. The line between Manana's real life and the story told in the book is gradually disappearing. In the finale, this is especially highlighted when as normal, Manana begins to write the finale of the book on her hand. It is not clear whether her father's words refer to the book or to Manana: "I'm afraid that the end of the book will become the beginning of something terrible, this woman is the go-getter for everything... Can you endure it?!..."
The film has an open ending. We don't know what kind of ending Manana thought of the book. accordingly, we don't even know how her life will continue. She tied her hair with her mother’s pin of the bird shape and refused her father to remove some places from the book because she had overcome her fear, she no longer doubts her choice and she will withstand all kinds of obstacles.
Ana Urushadze's film "Scary Mother" represents Georgian art-house film and quite successfully. It has won many prizes at various international film forums, including: Locarno (Switzerland) Film Festival Prize for Best Debut ("Swatch" Award for First Feature Film), Young Jury Prize, Film Critics Association ("Fipresci") Prize; Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Film Festival's main prize "Sarajevo Heart"; Special Jury Prize of the Asian and Pacific Film Academy ("Asian Oscar") (Nato Murvanidze was awarded for the best female role); The main prize of the San Francisco (USA) Film Festival "Golden Gate". In addition, this work was also nominated by the European Film Academy.