An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
Melissa lives with her mother and her grandmother in Sicily. She has a close relationship with her grandmother, a heavy smoker, who seems to be the only person in the world who understands Melissa. Melissa's father lives in another country. One day Melissa and her friend go to a party at a school friend's home. While there, Melissa meets Daniele, a boy from the school, and has her first sexual experience. The experience is far from being what Melissa always has dreamed it would be, because Daniele forces her and later forgets her. However, Melissa has fallen in love with Daniele. Back at school, when Melissa tries to get Daniele's attention, he barely remembers her. He takes advantage of Melissa's feelings for him, convincing her to have sex with him whenever he wants. When Melissa discovers Daniele's true motivations, she takes revenge by having even wilder sexual experiences with him and other boys. She even begins keeping a diary to document her sexual experiences. Melissa's mother... Written by
An Italo-Spanish co-production about the sexual awakening of teenager Melissa, loosely based in the semi-autobiographic novel "100 colpi di spazzola prima di andare a dormire" by Melissa Panarello.
The movie shows the dilemmas, challenges, and darkness that young women face when they become sexual beings, try to accept their sexuality, but have no sexual education or guidance.
It is truly rare finding a movie that focus on teenager women and sex, and not men, and in which the woman is presented as an explicitly sexual human being.
The movie is frank and even ruthless in its approach to contemporary teens' sexuality in general and Melissa's in particular. We see her strong shameless strong sex drive, which she cannot harmonize with her wish to be loved and respected as a woman by a man. She struggles making sense of the importance of accepting social boundaries and not giving way to peer pressure to fit into a group, which is a quintessential teen problem. Melissa's awakening is a path of pain as well as of pleasure, but takes her to very dark places, in scenes that can be disturbing.
Despite the good premises, the script is uneven, not always engaging, and has most adult characters barely sketched except for Melissa's and for Melissa's charming eccentric grandmother -played by Geraldine Chaplin-. The character of Melissa's mother Daria -played by Fabrizia Sacchi- is barely drawn, and very stereotypical. The absent father, and his marital relationship with Daria, is barely explained, just a reference outside. Most male teen characters are depicted as despicable villains, stereotypical machos, and I don't think I want to believe that is always the case.
Maria Valverde is very good as Melissa, actually, she's the best thing in the movie. She has an impressive acting registry for such a young age. Her face is splendorous always, her expression innocent, childish, weak and boyish sometimes, hyper-feminine, dramatic, strong and sexual some others. Valverde has to deal with very raunchy scenes, some of them very dramatic, and she succeeds at making believable her character. Geraldine Chaplin is always a delight, but I did not find her especially inspired in this movie, mostly because the way her character is written. The rest of the actors are just OK.
A not always engaging movie, but with some interesting themes and a good performance by Valverde.
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