This Italian film was the only showing at Sundance this year that made me want to stick a fork in my eyeball, pull it out, and examine it with the eye that I had left in my head. I’m sorry to be so harsh on a medium I love so well (Italian Cinema ftw!), but I gots to tell it how it is.
Marta, a young Swiss girl who has just moved to Italy with her mother and sister, has been enrolled in the local church to prepare for her Catholic confirmation. She’s faced with a faith she doesn’t understand and lots of expectations heaped upon her shoulders of how and what she should be. It’s a good premise for any disaffected Christian like myself and I was looking forward to it. Sweet Marta is very, very moody and very, very dissatisfied with life. At 13. Why? That’s the question you’re going to be asking yourself throughout the whole movie. And not the good kind of “why”…like “Why is the sky blue?” and “Why are puppies so cute?” But the kind of “why” where you can't really reflect on the answer because it doesn't make sense, like “Why is Nicole Kidman injecting her lips again?” and “Why is Winona Ryder shoplifting?” These whys aren't fun. Sure, Marta has a mom who works late and sure and her older sister gets mad at her for borrowing her bra and being so selfish (I sort of agree with the older sister). But ultimately, this is a character that has no motivation (I don't think she knows what's happening to her ever) and gives you no reason to like her and doesn’t really express why she’s so unhappy. There is no WHY.
This film was full of one drawn out scene to the next. There is the scene where her Sunday School teacher yells at her so she goes and cuts all her hair off (beautiful hair) with dull scissors. I was too bored to search for a metaphor here. There is the scene where she finds a liter of newly born kittens and the Sunday School teacher shoves them all in a plastic bag and sends them off to be drowned (not before hitting the bag on the concrete a few times out of lack of humanity…you’ll want to punch someone in this scene because it’s so awful, so sit alone if you see it…note to yourself: don’t see it.) There is the scene where she starts her period (do girls in this modern age get to the age of 13 and REALLY not know what a period is still? Really internet? Really television?) and the only person there to help her is her priest. What is this, I asked myself? A messed up Italian version of the Thornbirds…no, sadly, no because the Thornbirds, while it disturbed me, still held my interest.
Soon the priest and the PMS-suffering-teen go on a journey to the top of a mountain to steal a large, life size crucifix from an old chapel and bring it down the mountain for their congregation to enjoy (because Jesus suffering on the cross is always an enjoyable thing to look at). She’s left alone with it and rubs her hands all over Jesus’s body as the screen gets dark and the lighting gets sexual. This made me get all protective of Jesus. Damn girl! Step away from Jesus! You’re being inappropriate.
Marta hates life. And hates everyone. And does stupid stuff. As a person who likes life. And likes everyone. And tries not to do stupid stuff. I wouldn’t recommend this film.