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MA MA (#TIFF15 Review)

tiff-40-blueMA MA

Written and Directed by Julio Medem

Starring Penelope Cruz

Every now and then, a special film comes along that fails on almost every level. This year we are graced with Julio Medem’s MA MA, a film that is so awful that it is almost a lesson in how not to make a film.

Penelope Cruz stars a Magda, a mother who is devastated when her husband leaves her for a younger woman. On a routine visit to her gynecologist (Àlex Brendemühl), Magda is informed that she has breast cancer. He informs her that the treatments will be rough and that she will need a mastectomy. Knowing her son has no one else to care for him, Magda gives the fight her all, struggling to survive for the sake of her child.

Let us acknowledge the most bizarre thing about MA MA. For some reason, Medem decides to shoot the film like a sci-fi movie. We are thus frequently presented with shots of Cruz under some strange blue filter, making her look like an alien.


The film also doesn’t seem to know what it is doing with genre. While the film is surely supposed to be sad, there are many overly sentimental scenes that accidentally fall into the range of comedy. Magsa’s gynecologist singing operatically to his patient as he beings to remove breasts provides one of the most bizarre moments in recent cinematic history. The singing doesn’t stop there either. Medem seems to think that a nice tune is the perfect cure to any upsetting moment. It isn’t.

At most one can admire Cruz, who is alright as Magda. She does not really do anything we have not seen before, but she manages to make the character likeable enough that audiences will actually care whether she lives or dies. That being said, her performance is not enough to save MA MA from being one of the grandest misfires in recent memory.

1.5 sheep

MA MA screens at TIFF15 as part of the Special Presentations program. This is the screening information:

Tuesday, September 15, 3:00 PM, Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Wednesday, September 16, 2:00 PM, Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

For more information and for tickets, please visit

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Ma Ma?


One Comment

  1. If you’ve lived in Spain or anywhere else where feelings still dominate modern day social interaction (such as India or Brazil) or fallen in love with a stong Spanish woman then you’ll love this movie

    If you’ve never experienced either, then watch this movie to see another way of how one’s life can be lived

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