Being a mother is one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences in the world. Watching my two daughters grow up has been full of unforgettable and touching moments as well as difficult ones too. 18 Presents gives us a glimpse of what it is like to grow up without a mother but also the tough decisions one has to make. Full of poignant and meaningful scenes, 18 Presents is a very sentimental film and one that certainly tugs on the heart strings while giving an unusual take on a true-story with an interesting twist.
The story starts off in 2001 with mother-to-be Elisa discovering that she has terminal cancer and won’t be able to see her daughter Anna grow up. Determined to make a difference in her child’s life after her passing, she decides to leave 18 presents behind, one for each of her birthdays until she reaches womanhood.
As Anna grows up however, she starts getting angrier during each of her birthdays as she’s reminded that she doesn’t have a mother and the presents soon become a source of frustration. On her 18th birthday, Anna decides to rebel and run away which sends her on an unexpected journey.
It’s best to go into 18 Presents not knowing much about the plot. If you can, don’t watch the trailer and go in blindly as this helps the intriguing premise to fester and keep you guessing over what’s going to happen next for a good chunk of the movie. For spoiler purposes I won’t divulge what happens but while some might not take to the twists and turns along the way, personally I quite enjoyed the different take on this story but it certainly won’t be for everyone.
The main themes of the movie are, as expected, motherhood which is well depicted and growing up without a mother for Anna has certainly been very challenging. She has also been struggling to come to terms with celebrating her birthdays on the same day her mother passed away. To her, the gifts are a reminder of that missing presence in her life and as she’s grown up, she’s become more frustrated.
While Anna is developed quite well and has a consistent narrative arc across the picture, Anna’s father’s story is not given the same treatment and could have done with being a little more developed after he lost his wife.
The acting from Vittoria Puccini as this brave mother, faced with the ultimate choice, is excellent but it is Benedetta Porcaroli’s raw performance as Anna who shines the most in the movie. The cast have some decent chemistry on-screen too which certainly adds a lot more depth and emotion to proceedings as well.
With some strong themes and good individual moments, 18 Presents gives an original take on its emotional premise. The movie is easy and interesting to watch and should get you hooked very early on. While it may not be for everyone, there’s certainly some tear-jerking scenes here that may just bring you to tears just like it did for my 21 year old daughter and I! 18 Presents is well worth a watch.
Verdict - 8/10