In yet another extraordinary coincidence, while reading George Orwell’s first-hand encounter with poverty (Down and Out in Paris and London), my next film review was Alexandre Moratto’s lovingly crafted homage to all mothers that further explores the trials and tribulations of those who do not fit in the “expected” norms of the world due to age, sexuality or financial means (in this instance all three).
As the film opens, the wonderfully named Socrates (Christian Malheiros in a finely nuanced performance and sporting a physique that the camera—and fans of all sexes will appreciate) holds his mother to her dying breath. The 15-year-old clearly devastated losing the only parent he loves far before her time.
From there, it’s a journey into misery fuelled by uncaring bureaucracy and past-due rent; only the estranged father (“Go suck cock,” he spits out dismissively) can take custody of his wife’s cremated remains. Catch 22: while ready to work, most places require proof of being 18 years old. Finally lucking out into a labourer’s replacement gig, Socrates finds a jealous co-worker (Tales Ordakji, appropriately sultry and haughty as required) who—after some initial fisticuffs for his sudden colleague working too fast—would be happy to bed his new acquaintance, and does so. The brief love affair (tastefully shot with just enough heat to hope for more), soon disintegrates due to unmentioned relationships (a common situation no matter what our income).
After a bit of couch surfing—notably with his uncle—Socrates is forcefully reunited with his god-fearing dad, but manages to escape the unrepentant bully only to consider entering the life of male prostitution in order to make ends meet. Incredibly, the initial cash-for-cock encounter ends in disaster, forcing the philosophically named young man back into the clutches of his short-sighted, short-tempered father.
Disgusted again with familial ties, Socrates opts to dine out on discarded garbage before—literally—taking matters into his own hands and reclaiming his mother’s last remains (and some cash on the side—why not?).
From there, the film takes on a wonderful air of homage to the only person in the world Socrates really ever cared about. As the tide rolls in and out, it’s uncertain what sort of ending will be witnessed, but as an expression of undying love against all odds, it succeeds where many others have failed. JWR