Luca Guadagnino :: Italy, Spain :: 2006 :: 1h40
Melissa grows up in southern Italy with a father who is seldom there, her mother who is too preoccupied to really notice her, and her hippie grandmother who is as close to her heart as only a grandmother can be. As she leaves her childhood behind, Melissa progresses into adulthood though her sexuality. Her first experience is so strong and far removed from her imagined contact, that she is twisted into discovering the extremes. An abrupt ending to her sexual exploration brings her to an understanding of adulthood.
The coming-of-age drama differs from others by its exploration of sexual extremes, and by its analysis of a psychological change (into adulthood) through the physical. A large challenge for a film, which it does not really pull off. The relationship between Melissa and her mother leaves too many questions – why is her mother so distant, and why is she treated so badly by the grandmother? The next step in questioning is the curious behavior of those around her. The extent of the sexual promiscuity and deviancy around her seems rather excessive without further explanation. A whole lot of tears with violins playing in the background are not going to make up for the lack of justification of the events. At closing, the audience sits through a standardized finale, leaving them to wonder what it was they had to sit through. And what for? Looking at the film from the perspective of the side characters, the image of the masculine gender as a never-ending source of sexual adventure/ perversion is perhaps not the image desired to send out into the world. Or was that the message? If you sit though this one, bare in mind you are watching teenage cinema not really recommended for teenagers.