The awkward and messy interplay between a lonely young daughter and her single mom, both sight-impaired, forms the core of Elisa Eliash’s meandering but interesting vid-shot film, “Mommy I Love You.” Spanish title is less cloying, and more in line with this, Eliash’s second feature, which doesn’t press the easy buttons that usually wring sympathy from such material. Insular mood and elliptical style won’t launch Eliash on the mainstream fest circuit, but this Chilean writer-director is one for programmers and buyers to watch for the future.
Little Raquel (Eva Luna Isense) has her eyes examined by a doc (Alejandro Goic); it seems she may have inherited mother Carmen’s (Catalina Saavedra) problems. With friend Viola (Josefina Gonzalez), who hangs out on a Santiago freeway overpass, Raquel explains she has “twitches” in her eyes.
Eliash lets it go at that, and makes little more of the malady, echoing how Andrew Bujalski’s new “Beeswax” makes no big deal about the wheelchair-bound woman at the center of his film. Indeed, the viewer doesn’t learn until midpoint that Carmen herself is nearly blind, a fact Eliash reveals comically, and develops later in a startlingly funny scene at an amusement park. Their apartment is a mess — which isn’t funny at all — with Carmen often lying around in bed as she sends Raquel on various chores.
The little girl takes the tasks on as tiny adventures, and Eliash’s intimate video shooting (done with something less than ideal equipment) pulls the viewer in close to Raquel and in the process makes her sympathetic.
The unstated yet understood question at the end of “Mommy I Love You” is where these two go from here. Even if the likely answer is “downhill,” and even though various types of disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis) are depicted or discussed, the ending is tenuous but far from gloomy. Isense and Saavedra live their performances in the moment, reinforcing the pic’s sense of casual immediacy.