The Taste Of Mango


Reviewed by: Sunil Chauhan

The Taste Of Mango
"The brutality of the abuse is never played down or shied away from, but nor is it considered insurmountable."

Lightly experimental, The Taste of Mango is filmmaker Chloe Abrams’ intimate, delicate enquiry into a history of abuse. It’s also an attempt to explore the links between three generations of women, spanning Abrams herself, her mother, and grandmother, and the experiences that both cement and threaten to break their ties.

Though ostensibly a film on abuse, Abrams avoids the trappings of hard-hitting investigative documentaries. Anyone expecting prurient, unflinching accounts will be disappointed as Taste of Mango is less interested in detailing what took place, then how these incidents affect the relationships between these three women from the past to the present day. The brutality of the abuse is never played down or shied away from, but nor is it considered insurmountable.

Perhaps that’s down to Abram’s own interests in what is shown and heard and what isn’t. Maybe it’s the pragmatism of her forebearers that we learn about or prioritising of the family unit (“to love family you must be selfless”). And yet, there is a desire for real change from Abrams’ mother: she wants Abrams’ grandmother to acknowledge her husband’s behaviour across decades if their relationship is to continue. And yet Abrams, even as she refers at one point to her grandmother as an “alien”, makes us sympathetic towards her as we learn of her own insecurities, fears, and misguided belief in “doing the decent thing”.

Abrams wants to know how abuse complicated the relationships between mother and daughter, how and why it wasn’t spoken about, and how this silence continues to rot the relationship between them, colouring her own perceptions of her grandmother. Along the way, she forges a loving, multi-hued portrait of her mother, frequently featuring her in moments of pure joy, whether dancing at parties, singing in the bath, or going on walks with her new partner.

Taking the form of personal documentary, family exposé, and home video unafraid to warp footage into grainy, dislocating, pixellated close-ups, the affection of the exchanges renders it endearingly personal and disarmingly empathic with a palpable warmth. Its pursuit of the answer to why the family matriarch opted to stay with an abusive man for four decades is rooted in disappointment and puzzlement, but more than that perhaps, a real sense of care.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2023
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The Taste Of Mango packshot
Three generations, spanning London to Sri Lanka, weave together in this documentary considering a history of abuse.

Director: Chloe Abrahams

Writer: Chloe Abrahams

Year: 2023

Runtime: 75 minutes

Country: US, UK

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