Writers: Lionel Braverman, Eduardo Crespo and Santiago Loza
Director: Eduardo Crespo
The administrative aftermath of death and the quiet pain of a mother’s grief is the subject of Lionel Braverman, Eduardo Crespo and Santiago Loza’s 2020 film We Will Never Die showing at the Visionär Festival in Berlin. Following the sudden death of her eldest son, Mom and her remaining son must collect his personal effects, view the body, visit his apartment and select the memorial stone ready for a funeral service. Along the way Mom meets the people in her son’s life and starts to discover she barely knew him at all.
As Director, Crespo’s film is a subtle and tender exploration of the effects of grief on a family who resist showy displays of emotions or melodrama in favour of the collected public face that Mom tries to put on as she undertakes these painful but essential duties. The drama comes from exploring the growing effect this has on a mother who saw so little of her son’s life and the alienated-familiarity of trying to piece together his social circle and interests.
There is a chapter-like structure to Crespo’s film as Mom and Son go from place to place, but the story develops a growing emotional investment in their discoveries. Crespo brings the family in from out of town and places them in a hotel for a couple of days which enhances their disorientation which becomes both physical and psychological as they attempt to come to terms with a strange event in, what is to them, a strange location. That Mom attempts to shield her youngest from the pressures becomes quite affecting.
Crespo gives the emotional impact of the scenario plenty of room to breath with long shots of characters, particularly Mom, pausing to catch her breath in charming fields as her feelings overwhelm her. This style allows Mom’s interior life to fill the canvas where she becomes a remote and isolated figure with her younger son trying slowly to reach her and bring her back to the surface. It is a very meaningful approach that resonates well on screen.
As Mom, Romina Escobar is full of quiet dignity, hollowed-out with pain and sorrow but still grateful for the functionary support she receives from others and respectful of their role in the process. That she moves methodically from task to task keeps her together but Escobar gives the character the chance to share her grief, or at least recognise it in others when she meets friend Co-Worker (Giovanni Pelizzari) and her son’s girlfriend Fire Woman (Jésica Frickel).
Son (Rodrigo Santana) is an innocent who understands his brother’s loss even if he can’t quite grasp the complex adult emotions his mother attempts to hide from him. The flashback sequences are a tad romantic and not really necessary given how vividly Crespo creates the impression of Mom’s emotional interior throughout the film, but as a depiction of maternal grief, We Will Never Die is beautiful.
We Will Never Die is screening at the Visionär Film Festival, Berlin on 11 and 12 November.