Mother Knows Best (2016) aka A Mãe é que Sabe (2016) is a family drama from Portugal with a tiny sci-fi twist, that was enjoyable. The Director has shown that is possible with a small budget to give a good film, provided you pick the correct cast and a story with characters that the audience can relate to.
The entire film happens over lunch – the extended family of Ana Luisa, who is happily married to Carol for 25 years and is the mother of a 22-year-old Mariana, are sitting around the table talking and recalling about Ana’s mother who passed away a few years ago. The individual characters – like the football-obsessed father or the carefree cousin brother borders being cliché, yet, we are able to enjoy their quirkiness – in a way the familiarity helps us to connect to the family members quickly saving the time for Director Nuno Rocha to focus on what he really wanted to say, which is what happens if you can change your past decision by just wishing them otherwise.
The matriarchy of the family is Ana Luisa, and, she imagines what it will be like if she didn’t get married when she did, and, if she can warn her mother of her health – unfortunately, the imagination becomes real and sets in motion events which Ana is unable to face. Though this time sounds like any other time travel or parallel universe story, the way this film stands up apart is in its treatment – it doesn’t bother with the ‘how’ of things but only on the ‘what’. The first hour of the film sets the stage for us to understand the family and their past, making us appreciate the effects of the changes when it happens.
While every actor had done their characters well, it was the two grandma’s who impressed me the most – they were Manuela Maria who appeared as the forgetful aunt, and, Noémia Costa who came as the nanny Eduarda.
Overall, a feel-good film that was simple and one with no presumption of being anything more.