2023 Calgary Underground Film Festival: Amanda (2022)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

Twenty-four may seem a bit older than the average age of a protagonist in a coming-of-age drama — and Italian/French coproduction Amanda is an offbeat drama at that, peppered with whimsical humor — but that is precisely where Amanda (Benedetta Parcoroli) is, both chronologically and emotionally. Having grown up in a monied family, she has no need to work, and she has never had a real friend other than the housekeeper who saved her from drowning as a child.

Amanda has reached a point where she wants to do some of the things she has always rejected, such as making new friends and meeting a boyfriend. Her stubborn and unusual personality doesn’t make things easy, though, especially when she is asked by her mother to meet with the mother’s friend’s daughter Viola (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), who isn’t exactly the most sociable person either, to put it quite mildly.

A kidnapped horse, the coveting of an electric fan, and an abundance of disaffected characters await viewers in writer/director Carolina Cavalli’s unconventional feature. It isn’t easy creating a bad-tempered protagonist that viewers care about, but Cavalli manages to do so, both because of her sharp screenplay and assured direction, and also thanks to a mesmerizing performance by Parcoroli. The titular character of Amanda could easily be off-putting with the wrong approach, but Cavalli and Parcoroli have worked a bit of mischievous magic.

Amanda screened as part of Calgary Underground Film Festival, which took place in Calgary, Canada from April 20–30.

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