- Movie Rating -

Amanda (2022)

| July 8, 2023

Okay, here’s my conflict.  I am the guy who always howling at the moon over my desire to see something new and different.  I want to see the work a filmmaker with a particular vision, a particular style that feels new and inventive.  That perfectly describes Italian director Carolina Cavalli, but I am conflicted over the film that she has brought to the screen.

Amanda is a low-key but still daffy dramedy about a very specific individual, a young woman known only as, well, Amanda (Benedetta Porcaroli).  All her life, apparently, she has been an anti-social misfit with a pathological inability to make friends.  We can see why; she boldly insults everyone that she meets and her personal style is slightly off-putting, with an over-sized coat, combat boots, a frou-frou white dress and a crocheted vest that looks like it came off of your grandmother’s couch.  The mis-match in her style is the opposite of her personality which is dry, droll and almost always expressionless.  Even her name seems out of step with her surroundings – Amanda is a common name in the United States but almost unheard of in Italy.

The movie opens curiously with a little girl on an inflatable raft in the swimming pool.  The maid, Judy, exits the back door with a tray of lemonade.  She shrieks Amanda’s name and drops the tray on the ground, but it isn’t until late in the film that we get to see the cause of this accident.  What we are treated to in the meantime is the world that Amanda inhabits and the effect that she has upon it.

Years later, we meet Amanda as she returns home after having studied in Paris.  What is she going to do?  No one is really sure because she won’t join in the family business and doesn’t seem to have an interesting in doing anything else that is either productive or progressive.  It isn’t really clear what, if anything, motivates her.  There’s some business about the next-door neighbor’s horse, and she has some personal connect with Judy and with her young niece, but mostly she’s an irritate, doing odd things like cutting her toenails over her mother’s bathwater.

Her mother Sofie (Monica Nappo) grows weary of Amanda’s inaction and decides to make a change.  She has a friend whose daughter Rebecca (Galatéa Bellugi) has a lack of motivation almost as pathologically unmotivated as Amanda.  She’s sulky, anti-social and refuses to leave her bedroom.  This fascinates Amanda, a person that she could possibly connect with, but the melding of their difficult personalities, to say the least, takes some time.  This reluctant friendship opens up almost at the same time that Amanda has taken a shine to a guy who hangs out outside of a concert venue that she immediately tags as a drug dealer – it turns out that she is wrong and what he’s really doing is kind of interesting.

I found all of this rather difficult to engage with.  Amanda is a wonderfully constructed film.  It is clear that Cavalli, in her first film, has a wonderful sense of the world that she wants to create.  She knows how to set up shots and the geography of her characters is always interesting.  My problem is that I never found myself engaged in this film.  That might have come from my resistance to the main character.  She’s so passive and so difficult to care about that I found myself wishing for some form of retaliation.  I know, I am not legally required to like every character, but try as I may, I could never connect with Amanda or Rebecca.  Their adventure offered a challenge but I came away not feeling very much.  Maybe that’s my problem.  Maybe that was the point.  Your experience may vary.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2023) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy