Today our Italian film review focuses on Caterina va in città (2003), a coming-of-age movie from the acclaimed Italian director Paolo Virzì about the realities of the Italian society under Silvio Berlusconi’s rule. Despite being classified as a comedy, the majority of the sc enes are imbued with a dark sense of humor and the thread running throughout the movie is not really about Caterina, a 13-year old girl who moves with the family from a small town to Rome, but more about her father, Giancarlo Iacovoni, who realises late in life that it is ok to be an individual different from the others.
Caterina will discover in the new school she enrolls an ambient extremely divided politically when she starts developing friendships with the “left” and the “right” side of the class, represented by Margherita and Daniela, both coming from socially prominent families. Her father criticises the establishment, the big money, the old boys’ network, and yet envies them at the same time. With Caterina’s new connections, Giancarlo actually has the change to mingle with exactly the class of people he inwardly resents, but every chance he gets to make a mark among them turns to embarrassment.
If you have enjoyed the feeling that La vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful) left in you, that bittersweet combination of sadness and happiness, expect Caterina in the Big City to leave you with the same impressions. It is a coming-of-age movie for both the daughter and the father without the customary final scene where everything turns out fine and without the characters fulfilling the standard requirements of ‘coolness’ or ‘sympathy’. However, it is an extremely rewarding movie about normal people, life in the big city, class consciousness and divided societies.