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When her father, Giancarlo is transferred to Rome from the small country town of Montalto Di Castro, Caterina, a 12 years old girl, will discover her new classmates, a totally new world, an ambient extremely divided politically. She starts developing her friendship with the "left side", represented by Margherita, and the right, Daniela, side of her class. She will lose herself, without knowing who she really is. However, maybe Edward, the young Australian boy, who lives in the apartment across hers, can help her more that she thinks. Written by
A Film Filed to Overflowing with Stories and Information
'Caterina va in citta' ('Caterina in the Big City') is an Italian film that takes as its storyline the coming of age of a young teenager transported by her family from the quiet Tuscany seaside village of Montaldo Di Castro to the challenging realities of Big City Rome, but that is only the means to an end of exploring Italian politico-social life and its effects on the youth of today. It comes very close to drowning in its own excesses, but at the root of the film is a sensitive tale of a young girl's struggles with growing into an adulthood that puzzles, frightens and challenges her.
Caterina (Alice Teghil) finds her greatest moments of happiness in her home town singing mezzo soprano in the choir: simple pleasures in a simple setting surrounded by country folk content to live life day to day. Her father Giancarlo (Sergio Castellitto) is a teacher who can't hold a job, partially because he is so outspoken and partially because he is a raving truly obnoxious person. Her mother Agata (Margherita Buy) is subservient, a woman with few coping mechanisms who allows her odious husband to run an abusive household. Giancarlo's aunt is ill in Rome and with the idea of finding a job where his talents are respected, Giancarlo uproots his little family and moves to the big city. There the social castes are evident and Caterina is judged a country hick until she is befriended by first a rebel who bonds with Caterina, introduces her to tattoos and liquor, and causes a schism between her important mother (Giancarlo hoped to have is novel published by the woman), the daughter and his family. Caterina then is absorbed into the rich and spoiled rank and file of the wealthy, not fitting in until the girls do a make over. That situation is again disrupted by Giancarlo's blindly inappropriate behavior. The true Caterina is somehow lost, still dreaming of becoming a fine mezzo soprano, but tagging along with the crowd du jour. Ultimately Giancarlo's multiple and consistent failures drive him away from the family, he rides off to oblivion on his restored motorbike, and Agata and Caterina both bloom.
The noise level of this film is such that it is difficult to watch: the young girls means of communication is a mixture of screaming, loud talking, and fighting and otherwise making us uncomfortable. Yet underneath all of the political and social expose and brandishing is a truly wonderful young Caterina whose life as a soap opera is watched tenderly by an Australian boy who plays the guitar and observes her family from a window across the way from Caterina's Rome home. The moments toward the end of the film when the playback comes justifies the fuss of getting there.
This is not a film this viewer would sit through again, but reflecting on the story after all the commotion is over, hearing Mozart's 'Ave Verum Corpus' and Verdi's 'Nabucco" etc as the inspiration behind Caterina's honest dreams, makes is a more memorable experience. In Italian with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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