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Stars: Trace Lysette, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Browning, Joshua Close, Adriana Barraza

Director: Andrea Pallaoro

Very slow, with lots of long-held shots, Monica centres on a transgender woman (Lysette) - who seems to have split with a much-loved partner - returning to her childhood home to help care for the dying mother (Clarkson) who kicked her out as a troubled adolescent.

It's fully 15 minutes, however, before the film gets down to this.

Monica's mother seems not to recognise her at first, but eventually there is a bonding and an acceptance. The film is quite perceptive in its close-up on difficult human relationships but, although there are lots of tears, there's little affecting emotion and the final scene is a tad pretentious.

It's nicely shot by Katelin Arizmendi, mixing 'tableaux'-type mises-en-scene with scenes that have the feel of a home movie. And it's poignantly acted, especially by the exquisitely subtle Clarkson. Be sure to take your hearing aid for this one though: the dialogue is very soft and sometimes little above a murmur.

David Quinlan

USA/Italy 2022. UK Distributor: 606 Distribution. Colour by Kodak.
113 minutes. Not widescreen (4 x 3). UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Dec 2023