At the very least, it’s impossible to watch The Disappearance of My Mother without a measure of ambivalence. Gratitude for the chance to make Barzini’s acquaintance, and for Barrese’s sensitivity in making the introduction, is accompanied by ethical queasiness.
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The result of the collaboration between mother and son brings no great epiphanies but it remains a film that both beguiles and unsettles as it salutes a remarkable woman and the enduring demands of ties that bind.
The Disappearance of My Mother is a successful piece of documentary filmmaking inasmuch as it’s entertaining and dextrously crafted. But its precise intent is unclear.
It’s fascinating to see Benedetta Barzini in academic action, like an ethnographer of the patriarchy herself, bringing back news from its most glamourous yet rotten core.
The Disappearance of My Mother is a bit too rough around the edges, but it’s as honest as it is persistent.
Beyond a commendable amount of love and effort, there’s nothing substantial to take away from The Disappearance of My Mother.
This is a tumultuous muse story in which the artist and his inspiration just happen to be blood relations.
The Disappearance of My Mother is rife with grand philosophical questions about beauty, capitalism, love, life, and death, while still maintaining the intimacy of a family connection.
The Disappearance of My Mother captures the 1960s supermodel turned ’70s (and beyond) Marxist/feminist, a striking figure who raised children by building an afterlife of journalism, activism and education.
Barrese follows his mother everywhere. She bikes to teach her classes, and there's lots of thought-provoking footage of her lectures and small conferences with students. These are some of the best sequences in the film.