REVIEW: Like Crazy
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Micaela Ramazzotti
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…its obvious charms should woo art-house audiences…
One is not sure if this phrase “like crazy” means the same thing in Italian. In English, it suggests to go at something all out, to be flamboyant and over the top as well as, perhaps, a bit obsessive. This certainly suits the two lead characters in this slightly fanciful but nevertheless affecting Italian comedy-drama about the struggles of two mental patients.
It is mostly set in a large institution. This is meant to be a mental hospital but, this being Italy, it looks more like a Roman Villa cum museum. Inside its ornate walls, several female patients are gently herded by the caring hospital staff. One in particular, Beatrice (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), causes more trouble than most; partly because she does not really understand that she is ill, or that there are reasons why she can’t just go wandering the streets.
When a shy patient, Donatella (Micaela Ramazzotti), gets admitted, Beatrice decides to take her under her wing. Pretty soon, the two are inseparable and longing for adventure. When they actually escape the institution, they end up heading for a grand location to hang out with the rich aristos that Beatrice feels at home with. All of this sounds like a cross between Ab Fab and Girl Interrupted, but director, Paolo Virzi, has crafted something unique in its own way.
The sheer verve of Bruni-Tedeschi’s presence and performance sweeps you along. She blazes on the screen, and the fact that she seems to be very well aware of the effect that she has on men works well with this character. The other linked story of how Donatella wants to try and reconnect with the son that the state took from her (and farmed out for adoption) also gives Ramazzotti a chance to shine later in the film. That aspect of the story has some slightly implausible touches, but it is moving nonetheless. The film has done well in Italy, and its obvious charms should woo art-house audiences here too.