Figlia Mia (2018) **** | Berlinale 2018

February 18th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Laura Bispuri | Francesca Manieri | Cast: Valeria Golino, Alba Rohrwacher, Udo Kier, Sara Casu | Drama | Italy

A new crop of talented directors have breathed life into contemporary Italian cinema, with fascinating stories capturing the country’s vibrant history and regions. Paolo Sorentino’s The Great Beauty and The Consequences of Love are set in Rome and Ticino; Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by your Name/A Bigger Splash champion Emilia Romagna and Pantellaria, and Alice Rohrwacher’s The Wonders takes place in Tuscany, but and all luxuriate in their stunning scenery and unique sense of place. Laura Bispuri follows her debut Sworn Virgin – a story of a woman who travels from Albania to modern day Milan, with this gut-wrenching motherhood ménage à trois, marking her out as a distinctive cinematic voice with her stories of women coping in challenging circumstances.

FIGLIA MIA is set in summertime Sardinia, amongst a simple fishing community in an ancient coastal setting. This is about a little girl called Vittoria who suddenly senses that a woman she gets to know during her school holidays (Angelica, Alba Rohrwacher in a career best) is actually her real mother – rather than Tina (a captivating Valeria Golino) the loving woman she’s grown up with. Angelica is irresponsible but charismatic: one of those women who lives and loves for the moment – mostly out of control, and incapable of looking after her dogs and horses, let alone another human being. At first, like in a love affair, Vittoria falls for Angelica’s sense of fun, but is always glad to return to the calm security Tina provides. And as Vittoria becomes more obsessed with Angelica, Tina, feels jealous and threatened.

Bispuri’s narrative unfurls in an unhurried fashion while the women instinctive play their parts – this is a deeply affecting tale that will resonate with anyone who’s been affected by the issues at stake. Themes of identity, belonging and loss all macerate in the heady heat of this sweltering Mediterranean island, where a tightly-knit community are thrown together for better and for worst. The only character who holds the power is Angelica, and she couldn’t give a damn. While Tina’s desperate fear of losing her child, her feminine identity, and also of being humiliated, are powerfully expressed in Golino’s visceral tour de force. Sardinia corruscates in Vladan Radovic’s  stunning cinematography, its potent emotion and windswept beauty recalling the Taviani Brothers’ Padre Padrone another memorable Italian inter-generational tale of the ties that bind and threaten to divide. MT



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