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1 review, 2 user ratings

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Caterina Goes to the Big City
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by Peter Sobczynski

"'Mean Girls' al-dente"
2 stars

The idea of making a film that plays like a more politically active version of “Mean Girls” sounds like an amusing idea in theory. However, the new Italian coming-of-age film “Caterina in the Big City” is so stridently unappealing that whatever points it might have hoped to make are overwhelmed by the shrillness of the material. This is a film so jarringly noisy and unpleasant that the sheer noise of it actually drove me from the screening room for a few minutes so that I could collect myself–the first time that has happened since I saw “Battlefield Earth” there.

In the film, young Caterina (Alice Teghil), having just moved from a small town in the sticks to Rome when her father gets a new teaching job, finds herself torn when the two major classroom factions–a leftist bunch led by the radical Magherita (Carolina Iaquaniello) and a clique of budding fascists run by queen bee Daniela (Federica Sbrenna)–try to claim her for their own respective sides. Sadly, Caterina can’t go to her parents for advice–Mom (Margherita Buy) is a walking nervous tic who seems one jolt away from exploding and Dad (Sergio Castellito) is an obnoxious ass whose only interest in his daughter’s friends is in how their famous parents can help him further his own ends.<

On the surface, it sounds like just another movie about kids coping with peer pressure and trying to discover who they are while doing battle in the constant war that is the halls of a contemporary school. However, the film is so loud, strident and annoying that you will find yourself spending more time clapping your hands to your ears to muffle out the incessant shrieking and chattering than worrying about whether Caterina (who, frankly, displays so little personality of her own that you wonder why anyone would want her in their group in the first place) finds herself or not. Most of the other characters are equally lackluster–Mom is a basket case whose apparent ignorance of everything is apparently meant to be amusing, the school kids are a blandly appalling group of twerps and even Rome itself looks a little wan and feeble.

The worst offender in the film is Castellito, who is supposed to be playing an obnoxious character, I understand, but goes so far overboard in doing so that you find yourself squirming every time he appears on the screen. He is so obnoxious that when Caterina, towards the end, runs away in frustration, you suddenly realize that the only possible happy ending for her would be to keep running and never return home. Most audience members, in fact, will probably take her lead and ankle for the exits (and their aspirin supplies) long before that finale appears

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originally posted: 09/09/05 13:33:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/21/05 c p 5 stars
6/15/05 bruce landless Very good! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Paolo Virzì

Written by
  Paolo Virzì

  Alice Teghil
  Sergio Castellitto
  Margherita Buy
  Antonio Carnevale

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