Saturday, June 16, 2007

Caterina in the Big City

Caterina va in città (English title: Caterina in the Big City) is an Italian movie directed by Paolo Virzì and written by Virzì and Francesco Bruni.

Caterina (Alice Teghil) is the 12-year-old only child of Giancarlo Iacovoni (Sergio Castellitto), an aspiring novelist and teacher of accounting at a country school in an area north of Rome that one character describes as "hillbilly country."

Iacovoni relocates his daughter Caterina and his timid, long-suffering wife Agata (Margherita Buy) to Rome after finally secured a long-coveted teaching position.

Once settled in the Italian capital, Caterina enrolls in a fast-track high school. Caterina immediately finds herself pulled between two competing student cliques: a leftist bohemian contingent headed by Margherita Rossi Chaillet and a right-leaning group headed by Daniela Germano.

Margherita's mother is a noted intellectual and political writer. Daniela's father is a government minister who married into a wealthy family.

Margherita instantly adopts Caterina as her new best friend. The two girls attend rallies, visit graves of poets, and listen to Nick Cave records.

Caterina eventually has a disagreement with Margherita and begins to gravitate toward Daniela's group. Daniela invites Caterina to join her at a wedding, where Caterina observes a group of ex-fascists pay homage to Daniela's father Manlio.

Meanwhile, Caterina's father is trying to capitalize on his daughter's connections. When Caterina is friends with Margherita, Giancarlo asks his daughter to give Margherita a copy of his manuscript to pass along to her mother, a highly placed editor. Once Caterina becomes friends with Daniela, Giancarlo pays a visit to Daniela's father's office to solicit favors. Eventually her father becomes enraged on a talk show and becomes a laughing stock without control of his anger. He loses his teaching job after hitting a child who was mocking him of his behavior on the talk show. After failing to get help by the prime minister he slowly becomes more and more miserable. Caterina then finds out that Daniela and her friends do not like her and "Tried to make her civilised." She then lashes out at Daniel and runs away from home only then taking comfort with her neighbor, a young Australian about her age. He has been watching their family and describes them as a soap opera and that she is his favorite character. She then return home but her family is still in misery. Her father then begins shouting in a rank about all that matters in the world is tightly knit groups. This is one of the first moment in the movie when Caterina's mother actually shows her stress and distaste when she smashed plates on the floor. Caterinas father remians in his miserable life only working on his bike until after he finishes it, he finds out that his wife wants to leave him though is unable because she does not think he could make it on his own, let alone remain sane. He then rides off on his bike and is never heard of again which "Doesn't bother our family more, we like to think he's in a place that's making him happy." She re-establishes her friendship with Margherita and re-joins her group. She then is going away on holiday and the young Australian boy whom she had become friends with explains that he is going back to Australia because his parents are getting back together. She then tells him that if they ever meet again she would like to be his girl friend and abruptly kisses him, embarrassed she runs back to her mothers car wanting to speed off. The movie ends with her playing with her second cousin on the beach.

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