My third selection of Italian film from the 2009 Lavazza Italian Film Festival is Genova – a movie by Michael Winterbottom. The story is about a family who move to Genoa in Italy, when the mother is killed in a car accident. Joe (Colin Firth) then decides to bring his two daughters – Mary and Kelly (played by the beautiful Willa Holland) to Genoa – when he is given an opportunity to teach in a university there. The movie revolves around how Mary deals with the loss of her mum and how her guilt haunts her, as well as how Kelly enjoys her newly found freedom. Joe also has to manage the advances given by one of his students, as well as his friendship with an old colleague from the Harvard days, Barbara (charmingly played by Catherine Keener).
Firth as well as other actors play their part really well. Whilst you can see why Colin Firth can attract so many women worldwide, in this movie you see him more like a down-to-earth middle-aged academia struggling with his family.
I have only seen one other movie by Winterbottom, Code 46 – and I can see the similarities in style. The two movies are atmospheric, almost intimate – the camera brings you along with the characters – making you feel as if you were there with them, and not just watching their performance. Whilst the movie is interesting and beautiful – I can’t shake the sensation at the end of the movie that it could’ve been finished better. It leaves viewers hanging – yes, it is good for Winterbottom to make the viewers conjure their own stories and interpretations. That is the reason why I love world cinema, however, with Genova, I felt cheated. I had a “What the … ?” moment when the credits were suddenly displayed.
Genova is a story of new beginning, mourning, loss, and guilt — wonderfully acted.