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Amanda (2022 film)

Even a ninety-three minute film can feel like days if it’s crap – which Amanda isn’t, for the record. It is, however, AAF: absurdist as fuck, and yet there are relatable bits in the narrative, particularly for those who have ever felt as though they didn’t quite fit in, failing to find acceptance amongst a family one didn’t choose. The title character (Benedetta Porcaroli) moved away from her hometown some years ago, whilst still a schoolgirl, apparently because her father got himself a well-paid job somewhere else. But the family at large remained rooted, the family business being a network of pharmacies, none of which we ever see in this movie, because Amanda never bothers going to any of them. And why would she if she doesn’t require medication?

Having moved back to the hometown, she does her own thing, though there is family pressure for her to find friends to hang out with. Sitting in a dark cinema on a sunny Sunday afternoon on a bank holiday weekend, the irony wasn’t lost on me that Amanda described her Saturday evening at her local cinema, by herself with other people also by themselves: I hadn’t dragged anyone along with me, and neither had anyone else in the screen I was in. Her attempts at securing a boyfriend are hilariously awkward.

She also tries, with some persistence which eventually pays off, to rekindle a friendship with Rebecca (Galatéa Bellugi) – they knew each other as children, and there remains a somewhat infantile affinity between them., at least in part because Rebecca confines herself to her bedroom, her mother Viola (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) having given up trying to persuade her to even eat downstairs, let alone get out of the house once in a while and live a little.

Amanda is confident and assertive, although she isn’t exactly flirtatious, striking up a conversation and a date with someone she (at least initially) believes to be a drug dealer (that absurdism creeping through again) – it’s a ‘take it or leave it’ approach, and the young man has one chance. He’s either going to eat out with her, or not, and he decides to go along with her playing hard to get strategy.

There’s a directness to the title character that comes across to a British mindset as too abrupt and perhaps even unpleasant and rude, although her own mother Sofia (Monica Nappo) doesn’t scold her for a lack of civility, even at the dinner table with her primary schoolgirl niece sat next to her. Of intrigue is Amanda’s relationship with her sister Marina (Margherita Maccapani Missoni), the latter being ostensibly more responsible than the relatively renegade sibling – Amanda even does that thing where she gets out and walks a ridiculous distance home from what Marina calls ‘the middle of nowhere’ just because they argued, and she’d rather not be in the same car with her.

Quite bonkers but quite brilliant, the film has a self-awareness that it’s indulging in distinctly first world problems. Of course, it’s entirely possible to be lonely in a world where mobile telephony and social media are ubiquitous. This story is a shining example of what wonders in-person interactions can do for people.

Four stars

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