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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
I saw 'Caterina va in Città' in Sydney, where the audience had mixed reactions to the schoolboy who speaks Italian with what's apparently meant to be a Sydneysider accent. In general, I was impressed by the ensemble acting, but I felt that the best performance was given by Margherita Buy as the heroine's mother Agata. I was disappointed that Agata has so little to do with the main plot of the film.
The symbolism is just a trifle heavy-handed in this movie. Remember those Hollywood war movies from World War Two, in which the bomber crew conveniently had one member of every (white) ethnic group? (And there was usually one rich guy and one guy from the slums.) Well, director/co-scriptwriter Paolo Virzi has got that gimmick here, Italian style. When 15-year-old Caterina's parents move house from a Tuscan seaside town to Rome and enrol her in a big-city school, the student body conveniently includes the full spectrum of Italy's national archetypes. For example, Daniela is wealthy, beautiful and popular, the daughter of an official in the right-wing government. Margherita is a left-wing 'revolutionary', the daughter of a famous intellectual. Of course, the film implies that Margherita is somehow better and more 'authentic' than Daniela.
Because I found the political subplots of this movie to be deeply clichéd -- especially since Italy is in no position to lecture any other nation on the subject of politics -- I was pleased that the film's political content stays firmly secondary. The main story of this movie is, rightly, Caterina's uneasy and awkward progress through adolescence and into adulthood. It's no surprise to discover that being a teenage girl in modern Italy is difficult, but surely every adolescent -- male, female, rich, poor, in any century or culture -- has found adolescence to be a difficult time of transition. Except for some of its political comments, I found this to be a very honest and intelligent film, with characters I really cared about. I'll rate 'Caterina va in Città' 8 out of 10, and I look forward to more films from Paolo Virzi. Brava, Caterina!
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