I recently started to write a cinema column for a weekly magazine in Tokyo. I don’t really consider myself a film critic, though, since all I do is provide a roundup of what is showing in Tokyo. One of the fringe benefits of this job is that I get sent lots of invites for advance press screening, more than I have time to go to actually, and also some DVD screeners. I watched this without knowing anything about it, or, as far as I know, without ever having seen a film by Pupi Avati, who has made scores of films in Italy.
The title character of Giovanna’s Father is a timid middle-aged guy who dotes on his daughter even after she starts to show signs of mental instability and winds up in an institution after stabbing a classmate. The family drama is set against the events leading up to and following Italy’s involvement in World War II. Avati does a good job to capture the look and feel of the times. The sets and costumes are done to a level of authenticity that a Hollywood film would blow millions on, although it seems safe to say that the budget of this Italian production was a fraction of that. There are some beautiful shots in this, and the color palate has the yellowed patina of old family photographs. In terms of plot, though, the the story falls a bit short of the well-executed look of the film. Avati is trying hard to make a heart-wrenching drama, and while it is certainly a sad tale, it seems a bit forced.