The Misunderstood, Asia Argento looking for love
by Camillo de Marco
- CANNES 2014: Entertaining and tender, rich in pop references, the third film by the Roman director who is returning to Cannes ten years from Ingannevole è il cuore sopra ogni cosa, selected during Directors’ Fortnight
In need of love, girls in bright pink, teenage diaries, school romances, chic parents with large egos who snort cocaine, post-punk music, class fights and birthday parties that end badly. With The Misunderstood [+see also:
film profile] Asia Argento has given Un Certain Regard audiences at the Cannes Film Festival a quasi-biography set in 1984, which is entertaining and tender, bursting with pop references.
The main character is 9-year-old Aria (Giulia Salerno), whose worry about being misunderstood by her parents is something many will be familiar with. Aria is the youngest daughter in a dysfunctional family, living in a building in one of Rome’s high-end neighbourhoods. Her father (Gabriel Garko) is a successful actor looking to do an independent film (“one of those with lots of dialogue”). He is paranoid and superstitious to an obsessive degree. Mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a classical musician with a bohemian sex life, who goes off to a tropical island with one of her lovers telling her daughters she has a tour in Germany.
We the spectators get to the moment in which the parents decide to separate, among violent fights and insults. Aria, who is the only to be the offspring of both parents is thrown backwards and forwards between them both. The film is punctuated by her thoughts. School is going so well for her she gets an award for best essay in the city. The essay is based on her friend and classmate Angelica. Aria is in love with Adriano, the school’s heartthrob, who helps his parents out selling fruit and veg in the afternoons. Invited to her party, it is he who will manage to devastate the father and turn the film on its tail.
Daughter of an international thriller maestro and an actress, Asia Argento saw the swinging Rome of the 1980s with her own eyes. More personal than it is autobiographical, the director says, even if an exact episode from her real parents life is included in great detail. On 19 June 1985 Daria and Dario Nicolodi spent the night in jail after being found with 23 grams of hashish.
In The Misunderstood, there is none of the drama and provocation typical of the director in her second feature length film, Lest We Forget: The Video Collection, based on the cult autobiography by J. T Leroy (presented during Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2004). To the contrary, lightness and entertainment prevail throughout the film, highlighted by the slightly out of focus photography by Nicola Pecorini and made richer by musical pieces from the time (especially post-punk) and written by Asia herself, propped up by piano pieces by great composer Alfredo Casella, the director’s great-grandfather.
(Translated from Italian)