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Moka Movie Review

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Moka Movie Review

Title: Moka

Director: Frédéric Mermoud

Starring: Emmanuelle Devos, Nathalie Baye, David Clavel, Diane Rouxel, Samuel Labarthe and Oliver Chantreau

‘Moka’ is the colour of a 1970s Mercedes which has killed an adolescent and is being hunted down by the mother of the victim, to find out who was behind the steering wheel.

The detective story is entirely from the mater dolorosa’s point-of-view, Diana Kramaer. She finds the car and decides to move to the small town where it is being sold. The owner is Marléne, a mysterious and elegant blonde woman who owns a beauty salon. Diane will insinuate herself in the beautician’s life to carry out her vengeance.

‘Moka,’ written and directed by Frédéric Mermoud, is based on the eponymous novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. The film adaptation begins with  mystifying allure, as Emmanuelle Devos brilliantly portrays the determined mother who wants to take justice into her own hands. The cinematography by Irina Lubtchansky avails the atmosphere. However, once the mystery is revealed the film’s mode morphs into soap-opera.

The initial ambiguity of ‘Moka’ does enthrall: the feigned friendship between the distraught mother and the apparently courteous Marléne charges-up the spectator, who yearns to see the outcome of it all. But the payoff flops. It doesn’t provide the awaited catharsis, nor does it surprise sufficiently with a mind-blowing revelation. The epiphany is not electrifying.

Nevertheless the Franco-Swiss psychological thriller won the Variety Award at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival; and was praised by several critics who compared Mermoud’s style to Chabrol and Hitchcock. Undoubtably ‘Moka’s’ prelude is promising, and the crescendo majestically builds up, but there is no grande finale.

Technical: B-

Acting: B

Story: C-

Overall: C+

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Moka Movie Review

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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