Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2023 7:08 am 
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An intense and indolent young woman in an upper class Turin family seeks love and friendship, and won't take no for an answer

She is a spoiled brat of 24 in an affluent family whose indolent lifestyle is supported by her doting mother, one who's preternaturally self-possessed, almost with a mission. This film about Amanda (the excellent, attention-getting Benedetta Porcaroli), identifiably influenced by the Greek Weird Wave, with its own long shots and use of a grand concrete block Turin modern house, has an elegance about it that satisfies.

Amanda, as Wendy Ide wrote in her Screen Daily Venice review, is "a gigantic pain in the ass" a well as "the kind of socially maladroit, privileged weirdo who crops up in the fllms of Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson" (there's that too). Out of this "rather unpromising character," the director - and her excellent star - have created the "refreshingly unconventional and acidic deadpan comic portrait" of an "offbeat female friendship."

It starts at the dinner table of Amanda's family, which is in a grand, very rectangular Italianate mansion fronted by an equally grand swimming pool. It's pointed out to Amanda that she has no friends. She determines to remedy this. She remembers that as a small child she and another girl were inseparable. This girl was Rebecca, whom she seeks out, now grown up (Galatéa Bellugi).

A problem arises: Rebecca is a recluse, who refuses to leave her room in her family's grand house, the Frank Lloyd Wright-style one. (These grand houses as well as the frequent long shots, grandeur in cinematography, are a big part of the movie's style and its luxurious sense of space.). Amanda brooks no opposition, though, and lures Rebecca out. The trouble then is that Rebecca's mother finds Amanda exhibits "borderline personality" traits she thinks are bad for her daughter to be exposed to. (She was not doing so well before.) But mightn't Amanda's confrontational style be just the thing to shake Rebecca out of her shell? While rediscovering this long-lost childhood bond, Amanda also seeks to find a boyfriend in the person of the Dude (Michele Bravi), but he is put off by her intensity. We, however, find it amusing. First-time director Camilla Cavalli has made a series of just-right choices that help sustain this debut. Things run a little dry toward the end but Benedetta Porcaroli never ceases to be watchable and attractive.

Amanda, 93 mins., debuted at Venice and was also featured at Toronto and is released Stateside by Oscilloscope, opening theatrically July 7,2023, at IFC Center in New York and at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles.

Criterion Channel release Jan. 23, 2024.

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