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.
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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