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[Tribeca ’21] ‘Italian Studies’ review: Vanessa Kirby is brilliant in beautiful and uneven tale

Another great performances from Kirby.

Italian Studies recently made its World Premiere at the Tribeca Festival. It is one of those films that tests the strength of a powerhouse performance. Vanessa Kirby stands out as a woman who is suffering from amnesia trying to find herself. As she wanders through New York City, she meets a teenager named Simon that helps her through her journey of self-discovery. 

The Oscar-nominated actress carries what ends up being an erratic film. Italian Studies constantly feels like a story at odds with itself. A script seems non-existent and gives the feeling that it is being made up on the spot. Lots of questions are brought up, but the dream-like quality of the movie also seems to be asking if they even matter.

The details to make it worthwhile are not provided.

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Kirby is her usual brilliant self, but there is also a sense that she is filling in the blanks as she is going. An argument can be made that this is the character. Yet, it comes off as more of a scripting issue than a writing decision. The cinematography and music are absolutely stunning. New York is given an almost dreamy look while the score enhances the atmosphere. Both give Italian Studies a feeling of isolation and uncertainty that helps patch over what some will see as flaws.

Italian Studies may be best looked at as a study of people. This is not a movie that is looking to provide answers and instead seems to want audiences to sort things out for themselves. This is not necessarily a bad idea; many of the most talked about movies reached this status to do their open ended nature. However, director Adam Leon has presents a story that demands reflection without giving the details to make it worthwhile.


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