A Fandango release of a Fandango/ Medusa Film production. (International sales: Intramovies, Rome) Produced by Domenico Procacci.
Directed by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli. Screenplay, Angelo Carbone, Leonardo Fasoli, Tavarelli. Camera (color). Roberto Forza; editor; Marco Spoletini; music, Andrea Rocca; production designer, Francesca Bocca; costume designer, Francesca Casciello; sound Dolby Digital Bruno Pupparo; assistant director, casting, Laura Muccino. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Upstream), Sept. 2, 2003. Running time: 108 MIN.
With: Elio Germano, Nicole Grimaudo, Luigi Maria Burruano, Anita Zagaria, Myriam Catania, Rosa Planets.
Small-town confinement, poverty and parental problems confront an innocent 20-year-old in this coming-of-age drama. Universal themes make "Break Free" an engaging if at times overly endearing small film. Driven by nuanced performances and a well-wielded narrative, pic should strike chords in Italy and, with proper marketing from producer-distrib Fandango, earn helmer Gianluca Maria Tavarelli the local box office recognition that eluded him with previous pies, despite critical appreciation. Niche international prospects appear possible.
Freckle-faced Vince (Elio Germano), in v.o., provides a quick depiction of dismal life in Bussi, his mountain village in the depressed Abruzzi region southeast of Rome. Protag's father, Cenzo (Luigi Maria Burruano), is laid off when a local chemical plant closes down, and the unemployed factory workers are given a government job clearing out rocks in the Abruzzi National Park, where one of Cenzo's disheartened co-workers commits suicide.
Cenzo's wife, Paola (Anita Zagaria), dumps him for a local politico with whom she flees to the nearby Adriatic seaside resort of Pescara. Vince, singing "I Will Survive," also heads to the balmy beach town for a summer job as a junior cook.
As he fumbles with frying pans, Vince falls in love with Genny (Nicole Grimaudo), a waitress afraid to travel by bus or train; romance sparks as he helps her overcome these panics. But just as they are about to consummate their relationship, the despondent Cenzo appears on Vince's doorstep, demanding hospitality and guidance in his vain attempt to recover his estranged wife.
The choices Vince has to make form drama's central conflict, paralleled by the contrast between desolate Bussi and sunny Pescara, a summer playground for the Italian middle class.
Crisp lensing and well-paced editing underscore this juxtaposition, with pic becoming quicker and brighter when action moves to Pescara.
Understated performances, a rarity for Italy, bring characters to life, particularly in key father-son scenes.