Alessandra Cantini in “La Prima Cosa Bella” [2010 Italy]

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Paolo Virzì has made some interesting films over the years and one thing that stands out is his storytelling. His latest drama, “La Prima Cosa Bella” [Eng. Title: The First Beautiful Thing] is perhaps his finest achievement to date – he and his co-writers Francesco Piccolo and Francesco Bruni also rightly won the David last year. Virzì cast wife Michaela Ramazzotti in the lead role who also won a David for Best Actress, along with an excellent supporting cast including the magnificent Stefania Sandrelli, and Claudia Pandolfi (who should have also won the award for a fine supporting performance).

The film is a sentimental feel-good drama about a mother and her two children spanning three decades. Middle-aged literature professor Bruno recollects events from his childhood while visiting his terminally ill mother at a hospice – he had avoided her and his sister for several years, and the film pieces his reasons together during its course – the narrative is well thought out and laid out beautifully. The upheavals in his family apparently start after she wins a beauty pageant for Young Mothers in the early 70’s. The father gets jealous when a judge kisses her for a photo, and after a nasty argument, she leaves with children in the middle of the night in pouring rain. It is his perception of how his mother made ends meet from then on that shapes his withdrawn personality. But the film also avoids branding its characters as good or bad, instead allowing us to make our own judgements. Some of the scenes are positively touching, like when the ailing mother reaches out to Bruno, and later when he reconciles with his loving sister in a proper one-to-one chat. There’s also great humour in the film to balance things as they become heavy – altogether a well written and performed film for a mainstream audience that also stars Micaela Ramazzotti and Claudia Pandolfi. Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link



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