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BIF&ST 2023

Review: Mia

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- Presented at the 14th Bif&st, Ivano De Matteo’s new drama hits us where it hurts, depicting a teenage victim of manipulation and her parents’ attempt to save her

Review: Mia
Greta Gasbarri in Mia

A father, a mother and a teenage daughter: laughter in the kitchen, doors closing, dance routines on TikTok, getting home after agreed curfews... There’s a bit of scolding, but not too much, because Mia is a sweet and respectful girl who does things that all kids her age do: she wears lipstick, goes out with her friends and plays volleyball – she’s a happy fifteen-year-old. Ivano De Matteo invites us into the day-to-day world of this solid, welcoming family in his latest film Mia [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, which was screened in a world premiere at the 14th Bari International Film&Tv Festival and is hitting Italian cinemas on 6 April. The movie sees the director behind Balancing Act [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and The Dinner [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ivano De Matteo
film profile
]
introducing his main characters to us with affection and authenticity – they could be anyone’s friends or neighbours – before gradually depicting a scenario where every parent’s fear comes true: something or someone comes along unexpectedly and extinguishes your child’s spark.

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In Mia, that someone is a charming and somewhat mysterious boy who’s a few years older than our protagonist (newcomer Greta Gasbarri) and who wins her heart the moment she claps eyes on him. The two of them start to date and it’s not long before Marco (Riccardo Mandolini, seen in the TV series Baby) shows signs of having some kind of problem: he phones Mia fifty times a day, he tells her how to dress, he starts to isolate her from her friends, he follows her everywhere… The girl’s father, Sergio (Edoardo Leo), sees that something’s not right, but her mother (Milena Mancini) downplays it: “she’s just loved up”. In the meantime, Mia becomes increasingly withdrawn and her beautiful blue eyes soon stop shining. Unfortunately, when things come to a head (the girl disappears for an entire night) and her parents decide to intervene, trying to distance Mia from this toxic relationship, it’s already too late. Because Marco has shot intimate videos of her and he’s prepared to show them to anyone just to get back at her.

Revenge porn, psychological abuse and oppression are the themes of this film, but so are perversions of justice and the helplessness a parent feels when faced with the arrogance of a manipulative twenty-year-old (“she’s mine, she’s not yours anymore”) who seems beyond reproach (he comes from a good family, doesn’t take drugs, never raises a hand to anyone) but who’s actually turning a decent girl’s life into a waking nightmare. De Matteo claims he wrote this film (alongside his partner and faithful collaborator Valentina Ferlan, with whom he has two children the exact same age as his two protagonists) “as a parent”, to shine a light on what can happen to our teenagers in modern times. It’s a first film that’s full of love (between the husband and wife, the parents and their daughter, best friends) but which ultimately turns into a rallying cry about the dangers posed by an inability to communicate, the new traps that come with technology and the signs we shouldn’t ever ignore.

The director shot the movie on film, using a handheld camera and staying close to the bodies and faces of his protagonists in order to better capture their emotions. Arguably, the story might have benefited from greater economy in certain parts of the film, not least to avoid repetition and lingering sentimentality, but – as De Matteo himself admits – he wanted the editing to mirror the pace of the characters too, without sudden acceleration. Eduardo Leo, who insists that playing this part was “devastating from a human viewpoint”, delivers one his most all-encompassing performances, proving (within the film’s 108 runtime) his ability to be light and ironic but also his capacity to move us.

Mia is produced by Lotus Production, a firm belonging to the Leone Film Group, together with RAI Cinema, and will be released in cinemas on 6 April courtesy of 01 Distribution.

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(Translated from Italian)

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