As a child, the realisation that there is more to mum or dad than just being a parent invariably comes as a surprise. Argerich is Stéphanie Argerich’s penetrating portrait of her mother: celebrated Argentinian concert pianist, Martha Argerich. Though no longer a child when she started this project, Stéphanie’s documentary film reflects an awakened appreciation for her mother as an individual whose identity extends beyond the role of maman.
The most recent footage, which constitutes most of the film, spans roughly a decade. Primarily filmed from a first person perspective, the film is a compilation of Stéphanie’s quiet, visual observations of her mother: a collection of candid conversations, recollections, and registered details, from the way Martha holds a cigarette, to the delicate pump of her bare feet on the piano pedals.
All of Stephanie’s questions are answered by her mother in a seemingly honest and unfiltered way, even under the camera’s scrutinising gaze. Similar moments with Stéphanie’s sisters and father complement and enrich the biography, along with footage from Argerich’s performances.
Linking the succession of clips and pictures is a narration by Stéphanie herself, combining her mother’s story with her own reflections and memories of childhood and family. Her tone is natural and contemplative, her gentle voice coloured with a soft French accent. The spontaneous, modest nature of the filming (this is, in reality, a glorified home movie) only highlights its lyrical nature, and renders Stéphanie’s account of her mother’s life all the more captivating.
In a time where reality TV and social media fuel man’s insatiable voyeuristic appetite, Argerich offers a profound insight into an individual’s life experience, but in a refreshingly unaffected and unscripted way, free from the usual melodrama usually demanded by viewers. Perhaps it is a sense of purity that characterises this film as unique, the evident lack of agenda behind its conception. The creator’s only apparent goal is to pay homage to her mother’s strength, beauty, and talent. The result is a beautiful tribute, speaking to a child’s admiration of a parent, intimate and touching.
Argerich is released nationwide on 1st May 2015.
Watch the trailer for Argerich here: