- Emilia Mazzacurati's debut, set in the suburbs of North-Eastern Italy recounted by her father Carlo, is a coming-of-age story immersed in fog and diluted by a surreal flavour
True to the surname she bears, Emilia Mazzacurati has not strayed with her debut feature Billy [+see also:
film profile] from the territories favoured by her father Carlo (who passed away in 2014), namely the Northeast of Italy with its extravagant human landscape whose relationships and value systems the Paduan master observed with a certain bitterness. Being a Millennial, Emilia has incorporated her father’s lessons in American indie cinema from the 1980s to Sundance, so much so that Billy is linked to many coming-of-age films (as well as TV series) starring young losers who are as brilliant as they are indecisive. Closing the Bellaria Film Festival, Billy is in Italian cinemas from 1 June with Parthénos.
The film's protagonist is nineteen-year-old Billy (a surprising Matteo Oscar Giuggioli), a former child prodigy who at the age of nine invented and ran a successful music podcast and now lives with his eccentric mother Regina (Carla Signoris at ease in the role of the slightly mythomaniac lunatic with a mania for western films) in a small village suspended in the middle of nowhere between Friuli and Veneto. Billy suffers from panic attacks that he mitigates by swallowing 'serenix' pills, is secretly in love with his neighbour Lena (Benedetta Gris), and takes refuge in a disused camper van where he invites 8-12 year olds, future nerds, to try their hand at board games. This fluctuating and wavering uncertainty is interrupted by the arrival in town of Zippo (Alessandro Gassmann), a rocker who disappeared years ago, Billy's childhood idol, who has returned to come to terms with his own conscience as a father who has abandoned more than one child to pursue success.
Inevitable is the generational confrontation that will lead to cathartic decisions on both sides. The cast, enriched by Giuseppe Battiston and Roberto Citran – two actors who at various times participated in the creation of Carlo Mazzacurati's cinematic universe – and Sandra Ceccarelli, is photographed (by experts Daria D'Antonio and Alessandro Abate) in short vignettes with a colourful and plastic 80s design created by Emilia Bonsembiante (it would be obvious to quote Wes Anderson and, in fact, we shall), like small chapters marked by the phases of the moon, reciting that melancholic heroism of the suburbs: "It takes more courage to stay," says fireman Battiston, flirting with Billy's mother. Absent fathers, runaways, single mothers and lonely teenagers (it turns out that Regina's real name is Elettra, but there are no girls to attribute the well-known Jungian complex to), in a foggy microcosm which one does not want to leave. But the drama is declined into comedy and diluted by a surreal taste that envelops everything. A debut that promises future developments.
(Translated from Italian)
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