No Country for the Young: Finding and losing yourself in Cuba
by Vittoria Scarpa
- In Giovanni Veronesi’s Italian-Spanish co-production, which hits Italian theatres on 23 March, two young Italians emigrate to the island in search of opportunities, but their paths soon diverge
A young emigrant can find new opportunities and new stimuli abroad, but they can also discover a darker side of themselves and get lost. This is the premise for the latest film by Giovanni Veronesi, No Country for the Young [+see also:
film profile], through the story of two young Italians who, like many of their peers (over 100,000 every year), leave Italy as a result of the lack of work. A scourge that the Tuscan director and screenwriter, for whom this is the 16th film he has directed, started exploring in his radio show of the same name (see news article), and is the point of departure for a bitter comedy which, whilst following the trials and tribulations of these young people expelled from their own country “like hernias” (Veronesi’s definition), shows their dreams and euphoria along with their fears, contradictions and damned souls.
Life is made up of aftershocks, says the film. And it is in this spirit that we should probably broach the adventure of Sandro (Filippo Scicchitano, the revelation of Easy! [+see also:
film profile], who then starred in Fasten Your Seatbelts [+see also:
interview: Ferzan Ozpetek
film profile], among others), andLuciano (Giovanni Anzaldo, who rose to prominence Razzabastarda [+see also:
film profile] and Human Capital [+see also:
interview: Paolo Virzì
film profile]), a bumpy and not always clear journey with a few stumbling blocks along the way. The two young Italians arrive in Cuba, a border land where anything can happen, with a plan to open a restaurant with Wi-Fi, still a scarce service on the island. There to take them in and act as their guide is not the stereotypical beautiful Cuban woman, but an Italian just like them (Nora, played by Sara Serraiocco, who was recently acclaimed in Worldly Girl [+see also:
interview: Marco Danieli
film profile]), who has a shaved head with a huge scar, the result of an aneurism that left her a bit “screwed up”.
The island overwhelms the two new arrivals with its beauty and violence. Then their paths start to diverge, and their plans go up in smoke and take on new forms: there’s the temptation of returning home, their encounter with other Italian emigrants (Nino Frassica in the role of a crooked restaurateur, the protagonist of an entertaining side story), their friendship with an elderly stout-hearted local, and the world of underground fighting, blood, a spiral of self-destruction in which the blows are also directed at the fathers that weren’t able to give their own children a better future (one of the fathers is played by Sergio Rubini). The protagonists find themselves only to once again lose themselves, with the luck that comes with life itself, also losing the viewer to some extent along the way – between paradisiacal visions of crystal blue sea, rides in cadillacs and indecent proposals from transsexuals – catapulted finally into a romantic dimension that is perhaps unlikely, but is counter-balanced in some way by the bitter and only too real parable of those who didn’t make it.
(Translated from Italian)