Year:  2023

Director:  Andrea Zuliani

Rated:  15+

Release:  20 February 2024 (in cinema), 1-15 March 2024 (on demand)

Running time: 105 minutes

Worth: $15.00
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Emma Benini Anastasia Doaga Arianna Bergamaschi Irene Maiorino Yuri Casagrande Conte Gabriele Pizzurro Samuele Segreto Simona Malato Fabrizia Sacchi

… a loose but invigorating journey that does justice to the proud tradition of sapphic-centric road trip flicks.

After a chance encounter in a public toilet…

Okay, let’s try that again: After a chance smoke break in and then outside a public toilet, young adults Ele (Emma Benini) and Mia (Anastasia Doaga) start to help each other out and then decide to go on a road trip up the length of Italy to return Ele’s father’s caravan to his best friend up north.

As Call Me by Your Name proved back in 2017, the Italian landscape is an ample backdrop for Queer-charged coming-of-age stories, and through DP Sammy Paravan’s camera framing, the sun-blessed scenery just radiates through the screen. Even when things take a turn for the Confessions of a Trickbaby-lite, and our plucky heroines find themselves dealing with Romanian drug dealers and a surprisingly understanding john, there’s a warmth to the imagery that turns this into what any good road trip movie should do: make the idea of going along for the ride seem inviting.

The film also follows CMBYN’s approach to romance as something fleeting but incredibly powerful, intertwining the blossoming relationship between Ele and Mia with a certain Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ angle to its sapphic storytelling. Like ‘Fast Car’, this is also about the futility of trying to recreate that One Good Memory, in this case Ele’s road-tripping with her late father. The notion of needing to let past relationships go is old-hat for romance yarns, but the way Girls Don’t Cry gives agency to how uplifting and affirming those moments are, and even the attempts to relive that nostalgia, makes it hit hard.

More so than the theming, seeing Ele and Mia being cute and supportive of each other makes this coming of ager worth watching. From the unassuming meet-cute, to the gradual Room in Rome-esque teasing-out of their respective backstories, to the more amorous moments (up to and including a sex scene that might be one of the most tastefully executed in recent years), there’s an oddball wholesomeness to their coupling that makes for all kinds of ‘Relationship Goals’. Emma Benini’s smile feels like it adds years to your lifespan, and Anastasia Doaga as the (relatively) more experienced of the two is balanced out by how much youthful vibrancy she brings to the frame.

Girls Don’t Cry is a loose but invigorating journey that does justice to the proud tradition of sapphic-centric road trip flicks. It shows memories of love and the love for our memories as paths with inevitable ends; ones paved with so much light and joy that they are well worth treading.