Directed by Carolina Cavalli, Amanda is funny, sharp, and an overall delight for fans of quirky indie comedies.
With a dash of Wes Anderson and a hearty helping of Greta Gerwig, Carolina Cavalli’s Amanda is a film full of provocative charm and promises to keep you grinning from ear to ear. The Italian film focuses on its privileged titular character (Benedetta Porcaroli), who is 24 and desperate for some kind of human connection. She reminisces about missed potential relationships from years ago — “He could’ve been my boyfriend for five years!” she complains to her sister about a boy who once looked at her in a movie theater — and searches for people to talk to on sex websites. She even programs her phone to call her Sexy Mama, so that she can have some form of endearment for herself.
The only friend Amanda has is her middle-aged family housekeeper, whom she drags to raves until her mother forces an end to their unconventional friendship. Her mother’s solution is to reunite Amanda with an old childhood acquaintance, Rebecca (Galatéa Bellugi), who refuses to leave her room. With a new companion on the line, Amanda pulls out all the stops to bring Rebecca out of her shell.
“You need to make friends.”
From the get-go, Amanda has a personality that could have quickly become grating. She clips her toenails in bathwater while her mother is bathing, believes the world is against her despite her wealthy upbringing, and fixates on anything but her responsibilities. But Porcarolil and Cavalli give her the Amelie treatment, with a spark of whimsy and deadpan delivery that makes her more endearing than annoying.
Amanda may act apathetic with a capital A, but there’s more to her than a resting bitch face. She camps out in front of someone’s door until they’re ready to talk. She refuses to date a music teacher simply because her young niece likes him. Trying to predict what Amanda might do next is effortlessly amusing.
Cavalli, who writes and directs, employs a brilliant style, with tight composition and vibrant cinematography. It’s quirky, but not overly so. Multiple plots can coexist without getting buried. Cavalli crafts a beautiful, convincing friendship between two lonely women with conflicting personalities. Rebecca is timid and wants to stay in the house, while Amanda is overzealous and tries to force her friend to go to her crush’s party. The story itself may be as old as time, but the chemistry between Amanda and Rebecca is electric and keeps the viewer engaged. To the point where you’ll want to hang out with these two just as badly as they do.
AMANDA - 8/10