Genova Poster

While the acting and photography in Genova have been justly acclaimed, we remain profoundly ambivalent about the film. Perhaps the script was one or two steps too clever, or was the ghost motif just over-used? It’s hard to tell; but the end of the film left one with a profound feeling of anticlimax.

 

As a study in grief, much of the psychology works well. Joe, Kelly and Mary each react to grief in different ways; Joe through immersion in routine, Kelly through subversion and experimentation, Mary through fantasy and withdrawal. The city itself becomes a reflection of their progress, its history and labyrinthine alleys a visual representation of the oppression of grief. Mary becomes obsessed with churches and saints – all good until the ghost of her mother starts talking, which robbed the idea of it’s power.

The film’s visual style is gritty and engaging, with hand-held digital the dominant technology. Light is always naturalistic and the film strived for an almost documentary plainness.

It doesn’t need resolution, but the plot needs some better point to finish. The film clearly argues for the need to accept, even to surrender to grief but to embrace life as part of healing. There are no happy endings in this post-modern catastrophe, except in melodrama. The chosen point at which the script leaves the family is good symbolically but doesn’t translate emotionally on the screen.

Colin Firth is excellent and shows that he is more than a rom-com star. The two girls are both memorable in their roles, although Mary’s screams were too realistic! But it is the Italian urban landscape and the sunlight that are the real stars.