Lavazza Italian Film Festival
SUZANNAH BENTLEY samples some films from the festival, beginning with Ivan Cotroneo’s directorial debut, Kryptonite! Read on to WIN one of two double-passes to Palace’s Italian Film Festival.
Set in the perplexing and colourful world of 1970s Naples, Kryptonite tells the story of nine-year-old Peppino, a bespectacled misfit. Peppino watches as his large, dysfunctional family falls apart against the backdrop of a town pulled between traditional Italian values and the progressive, free-thinking hippie movement.
Peppino’s oddball cousin Gennaro, who thinks he is Superman, is killed by a bus. Sensing Peppino’s sadness, his father Antonio buys him three chicks to remind him of life’s rebirth after death. Unfortunately, Peppino’s father also thinks chicks love fairy floss, eat omelette, and take baths. Their inevitable deaths leave Peppino even more melancholy.
Peppino’s mother, Rosaria, takes to her bed with a ‘headache’ that begins when she learns that Antonio is cheating on her with the tobacconist’s beautiful daughter, Valeria. With his mother unable to care for him, Peppino is shuffled between his father, three older siblings, his grandparents, and his mother’s friend, Assunta.
As Rosaria battles her depression with visits to a charming psychiatrist, and Antonio sneaks away for trysts with Valeria, Peppino observes the lives of his various carers. His much-older siblings Titina and Salvatore attend free-love parties and feminist meetings. While at a disco with Titina and Salvatore, Peppino takes acid and goes on a bad trip. Assunta forces him to sit at the beach in the cold for hours while she dons a bikini to try and attract a boyfriend.
As his siblings are embracing the freedom and modernity of the seventies, Peppino’s grandparents are disgusted by their family’s disregard for tradition — but, despite throwing various household appliances, they are largely ignored. Peppino’s Nonna is disturbed when she finds him dancing naked to The Age of Aquarius and scandalised to discover that Titina is pregnant to the Casanova Elio.
Luckily, as Peppino’s world grows ever more confusing, Gennaro returns in spirit form to serve as his guide and mentor. Gennaro encourages him to embrace his individuality and appreciate being different.
Kryptonite! features a wonderful soundtrack of sixties and seventies hits in a mixture of originals and Italian covers. Songs like Life on Mars and These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, when combined with the eye-popping colours and retro styling of the production and costume design, give a real depth to the film.
At times, Kryptonite!’s plot and narrative tension leave something to be desired. There is little change in pace and no strong narrative curve, which makes the film a little bit uneventful overall. Although the central characters are well developed, certain peripheral characters appear superfluous—perhaps because there are too many to properly explore in the limited runtime.
Valeria Golino gives a stand-out performance as the warm, sentimental Rosaria, and the relationship between her and Peppino gives purpose to the otherwise superficial plot. Although Kryptonite! doesn’t provide a well-structured plot or compelling narrative, it does offer numerous touching and amusing moments. Kryptonite! is rescued by its spot-on production design. The vividly nostalgic aesthetic and saturated colour palette in combination with Naples scenery and seventies tunes alone make Kryptonite! worth seeing.
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival runs from 3 to 21 October at Palace Centro and Palace Barracks cinemas. It features over thirty films as well as music, food and drink, and events including a double feature and the Opening Night Gala. Tickets can be purchased online or at Palace Cinemas. http://www.italianfilmfestival.com.au
OffStreet Press has two double-passes to the Lavazza Italian Film Festival to give away. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Italian Film Festival” in the subject line to enter.
SUZANNAH BENTLEY is a Brisbane-based writer, editor, and all-round word nerd. She has a Master’s degree in Writing, Editing, and Publishing, and a penchant for horror films and sparkly things.