Despite seemingly improving, the mother is terminal. Margherita must balance the demands between work, raising a teenager who is not doing well in her studies and impending grief. The American actor also brings onto the set his own petty neurosis and linguistic confusion.
Despite playing the protagonist’s irritant, Turturro’s appearances are welcome comic relief. In a supporting role, Turturro is allowed a full range of negative behavior, but remains somewhat likeable. Margherita Buy earned her David di Donatella prize for a retrained emotional performance. The audience feels for Margherita and her dilemma, which pays off for Mia Madre’s final scene.