Artist and B-horror Filmmaker Philippe Mora ventures into his own past as he traverses Europe retracing the footsteps of his parents journeys through WWII and the Nazi occupation in France and surrounding countries. He chronicles his mother Mirka’s family as they are taken and then subsequently released from a concentration camp, as well as his father’s efforts to rescue Jewish children from the south of France.
Director Trevor Graham uses a whimsical blend of different mediums to weave together the Mora family’s memoirs. From live documentary footage, to Philippe’s paintings and comics, to a mash up of recreations, home movies, and other historical film footage. What can be construed as a slightly messy start, quickly wins audiences over, especially as we get acquainted with Philippe’s mother, who is also an artist, and brimming with effervescent personality. As we begin to get a better understanding of the family’s gravitation towards the arts, their resilience, and personality traits, what we see on screen begins to make sense.
Aside from quick cuts of contrasting visuals to keep viewers engaged, Graham also includes sound editing techniques to get your attention. One particular edit begins with the tinkling of a handheld music box, which swells to a full orchestral version of the same classical piece, and back again. Its effect is particularly dynamic. On the other hand, there are montages of Mora’s horror films, used to mirror the horrors of his family’s experiences during the holocaust that verge on melodrama and run a bit too long.
Overall Monsieur Mayonnaise is a lively take on one family’s experiences. It’s a specific tale that gives us glimpses into some of the small but significant resistance efforts that were happening throughout the war, but the predominant tale here is about the Mora family.