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The Independent Critic

Benedetta Porcaroli, Galatea Bellugi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Michele Bravi, Monica Nappo, Margherita Missoni
Carolina Cavalli
94 Mins.
Oscilloscope Laboratories

 Movie Review: Amanda 
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If you weren't already aware of Benedetta Porcaroli's wonderful work in Netflix's Baby, you'd likely find yourself in awe of her work here in the Oscilloscope Laboratories release of writer/director Carolina Cavalli's existential dark comedy Amanda.

Porcaroli is glorious as the absurdly unhinged title character, a twentysomething who returns to her wealthy family's Italy home after time in Paris. She has returned home aware but unaware that no boyfriend, job, or friends other than the family's housekeeper who also saved Amanda from a near drowning in childhood.  When her mother (Monica Nappo) shares a story about a supposed childhood friend of Amanda's called Rebecca (Galatéa Belluggi), Amanda becomes obsessed with reconnecting and affirming Rebecca's presence as her BFF despite the fact that the now adult and dysfunctional young woman is agoraphobic and even less likely than Amanda to maintain anything resembling a healthy relationship.

And thus goes Amanda. 

Written and directed by actor turned director Carolina Cavalli, Amanda exudes a sort of Sorrentino-like thoughtful absurdity with Lorenzo Levrini's satisfyingly complex lensing and Babak Jalali's inspired editing. While Amanda occasionally seems to turn quirky for quirky's sake, the character of Amanda is immensely satisfying almost entirely because of Porcaroli's tremendous performance. 

I was enchanted watching Porcaroli's physicality as Amanda, a tapestry of emotional confusion, surprisingly vulnerability, and quiet determination. There's much more going on here than one might think as Amanda becomes obsessed with Dude (Michele Bravi), seeks to obtain a job she neither needs nor really wants, or rather assertively befriends an old horse.  Amanda is most certainly absurd, though never meaningless in that absurdity. The character Amanda is most certainly entitled and self-centered, however, she's also rather poignantly searching for her place in the world while almost aching with a vulnerable loneliness. She longs for connection yet seems almost befuddled by it when it starts to occur. She's almost stunningly irritating yet Cavalli writes her with such empathy that you can't help but root for her anyway. 

In addition to Porcaroli's fine work here, she's surrounded by a tremendous ensemble. Belluggi is tremendous as the aforementioned Rebecca; Giovanna Mezzogiorno excels as her similarly quirky and dysfunctional mother. Monica Nappo is also excellent as Amanda's own mother. The relationship between Amanda and her elder sister Marina (Margherita Maccapani Missoni), whom we peculiarly meet in an opening scene, adds a layer of emotional resonance to the film that is a true gift. Marina's God-loving daughter Stella is a scene-stealer and among the film's many highlights. 

Opening July 7th, Amanda is a film in the line of Sorrentino, a compliment for sure, but American moviegoers will likely more identify the film with filmmakers like Baumbach and Miranda July.  A wonderful feature filmmaking debut for Cavalli, Amanda is endearingly off-kilter yet also a film that leave you thinking about it long after the theater lights have come on and the closing credits rolled. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic