Earlier this month, MovieRob, from the blog, MovieRob, invited me to join the monthly blogathon called Genre Grandeur. This is a monthly blogathon where different themes are chosen by various bloggers. Since I’ve never participated in Genre Grandeur before, I decided to give it a try. September’s theme, as chosen by Carl, from Listening to Film, is Ensemble Movies. Like with any blogathon, I take the time to pick a film that is the right option for me and that could bring something unique to the table of the blogathon. While searching through lists of the “best” ensemble movies, I discovered that I Remember Mama would be classified as an “ensemble film”. Because I already had this movie on my DVR, I figured this would be the perfect movie for me to review for Genre Grandeur! The goal of this blogathon is to share your favorite film from the chosen genre. This was my first time watching the movie, so my review is meant to determine if I Remember Mama could be a favorite ensemble project.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: In any ensemble film, every actor and actress is expected to bring the best of their acting talents to the screen. That’s exactly what happened in I Remember Mama! In this film, all the cast members pulled off an excellent performance! Irene Dunne may be the lead actress, but she never overshadows anyone. Instead, her performance compliments the other performers. Irene was very expressive, sometimes relying on expressions more than actual dialogue. However, this aspect helped make the performance appear more emotional and realistic. Fans of The Waltons would recognize Ellen Corby as Esther “Grandma” Walton. Her portrayal of Aunt Trina highlights how versatile her acting abilities are. She effectively brings a personality that stands out from the other aunts in this cinematic family. Ellen also did a good job at carrying a Norwegian accent. Her performance is an example of how great an ensemble film can be, as it celebrates the cast as a whole instead of a select few.
The cinematography: I Remember Mama is a film that I was not expecting to see interesting cinematography in. But, as I watched the film, I was pleasantly surprised by how creative and visually appealing it really was. One common trick was how mirrors were used in a given scene. A perfect example is when Katrin begins to narrate her story. As the story starts, the mirror that is in Katrin’s room turns into a window as the audience enters the first flashback. Close-ups of people’s faces were also commonly used throughout this film. In one scene, Uncle Chris’ face is presented as a close-up when he tells his nieces to move out of his way. Because of the use of this cinematography trick, it reinforces the idea that this character is “scary”, a description that other family members gave him.
The messages and themes: Throughout this story, I found several messages and themes that resonated beyond the screen. Selflessness is just one example of an overarching theme that is relatable for a variety of audience members. Whether it’s Mama/Marta putting the needs of her family before her own or Uncle Chris looking after his grand-nephew while he’s in the hospital, it goes to show just how far this on-screen family will go to provide happiness and well-being for each other. The effects of one’s actions is a very important message in I Remember Mama. An example that really highlights this point is when the family has to deal with an injured cat. I’m not going to spoil this point of the film, in case you haven’t seen this movie yet. But all I’ll say is that it has a profound effect on one of the characters.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Some characters get under-utilized more than others: While having an ensemble cast does have its advantages, it also has its flaws. A flaw in I Remember Mama’s cast is how some characters are under-utilized more than others. Even though most of the story revolves around Mama and Aunt Trina gets her own subplot, Aunt Jenny and Aunt Sigrid aren’t given much to do within the story. Throughout the film, each daughter in the Hanson family shares a teachable moment with their mother. Nels, the only son in the family, is never shown sharing one of these moments. Arne, one of Uncle Chris’ grand-nephews, isn’t seen interacting with many of the characters. While he does spend time with this uncle, during a stay in the hospital, he doesn’t receive a subplot.
Having difficulty understanding the accents: In I Remember Mama, most of the older characters speak with a Norwegian accent. That’s because some of them immigrated to the United States prior to the events that take place in the movie. All of the actors did a great job at pulling off this accent! However, there were times when I found it difficult to understand what they were trying to say. This is because I’m not used to hearing Norwegian accents in film, so this flaw is my fault as a viewer.
My overall impression:
Before I share my final thoughts on I Remember Mama, I want to thank MovieRob for inviting me to join Genre Grandeur! When I first discovered genre grandeurs, I thought it was an overwhelmingly analytical process. But the more I learned about it, the more I realized how simple the process really was. I’m glad that I was able to provide my insight to the blogathon’s overarching topic. Speaking of this topic, I’m now going to talk about my thoughts on I Remember Mama! This film was better than I expected it to be! It’s a movie I’ve heard about before, but had never taken the time to see. Because of this Genre Grandeur, I was given a good excuse to finally watch it! I Remember Mama is a story that is engaging and relatable. What helps make this movie memorable is the cast and the cinematography. Since I found this movie to be so good, it definitely has become a favorite when it comes to “ensemble films”!
Overall score: 8 out of 10
Do you like genre guesstimations? Would you like me to participate in the next one? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!