Carolina Cavalli’s “AMANDA” | FILM REVIEW

Last Updated: July 4, 2023By Tags: ,

The twenty five year-old title character in Carolina Cavelli’s debut feature “Amanda” is something of a heroine.

Played by Benedetta Porcaroli, Amanda is from an upper-middle-class family who are cold and seem to fear any semblance of emotion who are closed off from the world, safe in their country manor. Every relationship between the women of the family overflows with conflict.

Amanda desires to rise above it all, seeking to be her own person and to not get caught in the web of her family’s unremarkable lives.

The character is on a vision quest of sincerity, as she navigates a world ripe with half-truths and false feeling. It is the natural connections between souls that keep us alive, and Amanda wants to experience that purity.

In her messy life, there are only two people Amanda respects. Her Jesus-obsessed little niece is genuine. Amanda feeds off their natural relationship. Still pure, the little girl is untouched by the harsh world and not yet shaped by the mundane existence of her family.

Amanda’s South American nanny earns her respect having kept her safe since she was a child. While fed up with the way Amanda and her socialite sister (a natural and effective Margherita Maccapani Missoni) continually bicker, the sweet woman is still a large part of her life. She stays loyal even when Amanda’s mother (an impassive Monica Nappo) asks the nanny to give her daughter space to make her own friends.

Amanda takes on a challenge as she reconnects with a childhood friend, Rebecca (Galatea Bellugi). The girl is an agoraphobe, keeping herself locked away in her bedroom. Rebecca’s mother Viola (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) cannot handle her daughter’s condition, staying in her garden and buying comically oversized cakes. These scenes pepper the drama with small seriocomic escapes with the supporting characters complimenting Amanda’s serious desire to find meaning through her connection to Rebecca.

Carolina Cavelli shows confidence in her filmmaking. The director wrote a smart script and designed her titular character with care. The film doesn’t make Amanda a saint nor does it craft her as an overly eccentric “Annie Hall” clone.

This is the type of character found in the work of François Ozon or Paul Mazursky’s seventies films. As written and performed, “Amanda” (the character and film) is consistently fascinating. With no friends her age, she is the definition of socially awkward, but is steadfast in her search for a relationship that matters.

Amanda can be stubborn, reckless, and go about things the wrong way, but Benedetta Porcaroli’s performance is so natural that we root for her. She means no harm but refuses to suffer fools or the gormless existence of her family.

The actress succeeds at navigating Amanda’s dissatisfaction with her life and the disgust toward the phony facades of her mother and sister. Porcaroli is quite moving in her portrayal.

Carolina Cavelli’s “Amanda” works very well. It is a film that exists as social commentary, class satire, and character study.

By the film’s warm and moving final shot, we are left with a hope that Amanda has broken through someone’s shell, while allowing herself to find the natural bond she has been searching for.

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