Review: The Sweeties
by Camillo De Marco
- Written in league with Marco D’Amore, Francesco Ghiaccio’s film is a comedy on adolescence, exploring themes such as self-acceptance and accepting others, growing up and friendship
Marco D’Amore, famed for his role as Ciro Di Marzio aka the Immortal in the first three seasons of the TV series Gomorrah - for which he is now a director since the beginning of the fourth season - is teaming up once again with the director and screenwriter Francesco Ghiaccio after the remarkable 2015 feat that was Un posto sicuro [+see also:
film profile]: a first work set in Casale Monferrato on the eve of the first major ruling in the Eternit factory asbestos trial. The two are now working on the highly awaited The Immortal, Marco D’Amore’s first film based on his character in Gomorrah, produced by Cattleya alongside Vision Distribution, and sold by Beta Cinema.
Their latest screenplay collaboration, however, The Sweeties [+see also:
film profile], is a comedy devoted to adolescents (and their parents). Without ever becoming too heavy-going, the film tackles the classic themes of self-acceptance and accepting others, growing up and friendship, and the somewhat tricky relationship between teenagers and parents as they are all experienced at this complicated age. In fact, the protagonists - Mariagrazia, Chiara and Letizia – are three self-proclaimed “big girls” who are subjected to the usual tortures in the Turin school they attend. Mariagrazia (Giulia Barbuto Costa Da Cruz) must also contend with endless comparisons to her mother (Valeria Solarino), an ex-synchronised swimming champion who retired from the sport during pregnancy and who can’t forgive her daughter the excess kilos she carries around with her. Letizia (Giulia Fiorellino) has a secret gift for singing, but is continually held back by her shyness, while Chiara (Margherita De Francisco) has met a boy on social media whom she chats with online, all the while taking care not to show herself on camera for fear of losing him. There’s a marked absence of any fathers in their lives. However, it’s a grown man (Vinicio Marchioni) whom the three girls believe to be the boyfriend of their despised fellow student, Alice (Alice Manfredi), the beautiful and athletic captain of the swimming team who previously filmed them in their swimming costumes without them knowing and uploaded the footage online, throwing them to the wolves of social media. Their discovery represents an opportunity for revenge and redemption: the plan is to coerce Alice into secretly training them so that they can compete in the synchronised swimming tournament.
The film brings to mind a fair few American teen movies on the topic of bullying and emancipation and other similar comedies starring plus-size protagonists (Netflix’ Dumplin’ by Anne Fletcher, starring Jennifer Aniston and Danielle Macdonald), while the synchronised swimming element takes us right back to Gilles Lellouche’s dramatic comedy Sink or Swim [+see also:
film profile] (which bagged a César earlier this year) in which a group of men drifting through life give new sense to their existences by launching themselves into a male version of this water-based sport.
The energy which ran through Lellouche’s work sprung from the tremendous performances delivered by Mathieu Amalric, Guillaume Canet, Benoît Poelvoorde and Virginie Efira. In The Sweeties, however, Francesco Ghiaccio relies upon the spontaneity of four young amateurs who aren’t always able to do justice to their lines, despite the simplicity of the script, as he circumscribes the protagonists’ gently unwieldy bodies and expression-filled faces in both urban (a beautifully shot Turin) and aquatic environments. In the watery depths of a swimming pool, we are all equal, whatever the weight of our bodies and souls.
A film of undoubted formative value for younger audiences, Ghiaccio’s work is produced by Indiana alongside La Piccola Società - as was also the case for Un posto sicuro - in association with Vision Distribution and with the support of the Film Commission Torino Piemonte. Vision Distribution will release the picture in Italian cinemas on 1 August.
(Translated from Italian)
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