Sunday, February 18, 2018

In Search of Fellini (2017)

In Search of Fellini


Have you ever fallen head-over-heels in love with a movie? That's what happened to voice actress Nancy Cartwright when she saw Frederico Fellini’s La Strada (1954). So much so that she wrote letters to Fellini and traveled to Italy to meet him in hopes that he would grant her request to adapt La Strada into a play. She never got to meet the director, who passed away in 1993, but her wild adventure to Italy inspired her one-woman play appropriately titled In Search of Fellini. For years Cartwright, who is best known as the voice of Bart on The Simpson’s, wanted to adapt her story into a film. In 2017, the film In Search of Fellini, loosely based on her own story, came to life. Cartwright produced the story with her production company Spotted Cow Entertainment, co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Kjenaas and even has an on screen role as Cosima, a character very much inspired by La Strada.

“The visionary is the only true realist.” – Frederico Fellini




Lucy (Ksenia Solo) is a naive 20 year old woman. Her over-protective mother Claire (Maria Bello) has sheltered her all her life. Claire used to be an adventurous young woman alongside her no nonsense sister Kerri (Mary Lynn Rjskub). After a series of bad relationships, Claire got pregnant with Lucy and from the moment she gave birth she decided to protect her daughter from all of life’s trials and tribulations. Fast forward to 1993 and Lucy is essentially a 13 year old in a 20 year old’s body. Faced with terminal lung cancer, Claire, with the help of Kerri, wants to help Lucy grow up and get a life. When Lucy has an ill-fated trip to Cleveland for a job opportunity, she stumbles upon a Fellini film festival and is mesmerized by La Strada. She watches all the Fellini she can get her hands on and an obsession begins. Lucy travels to Italy in search for Fellini but discovers many hardships along the way. Her fantastical trip mirrors several Fellini films in the odd occurences and encounters she faces in Verona, Milan, Venice and Rome. She meets two men, Angelo (Lorenzo Balducci), who will unlock her dormant sensuality, and Placido (Paolo Bernardini) who proves to be dangerous temptation. Will Lucy ever find Fellini? Or is this a journey of discovery for something completely different?

Ksenia Solo and Maria Bello, In Search of Fellini


In Search of Fellini

In Search of Fellini

"You guys just pretend you're on a cloud and watch movies." - Kerri

I was drawn to In Search of Fellini (2017) because I myself am a cinephile who will travel far to pursue my passion. However, what happens to Lucy in the movie is so fantastical and unbelievable that I had a difficult time relating to the character even though I found so much of myself in her. I had a difficult time believing this was based on a true story. I can't tell you how many times I've been to Europe and wished that something magical or extraordinary would happen to me there. It never did. But in the span of a few days numerous events happen to Lucy. I wasn't buying it. This film is pure fantasy.

In Search of Fellini is a love letter to cinema, to Fellini and to finding your true self. It's about breaking free from what holds you back. There is a lot here for classic film lovers. There are numerous references to It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Romeo & Juliet (1968), two films both Claire and Lucy watch extensively. It's a Wonderful Life represents how Lucy is stuck in a sheltered life and Romeo & Juliet represents her imminent sexual awakening and her journey to Italy. Lucy attends a Fellini film festival and is so in love with La Strada that she comes home with a stack of Fellini movies on VHS. In addition to La Strada, we see references to La Dolce Vita (1960), Amarcord (1973), 8-1/2 (1963), Roma (1972) and more. I love how Lucy becomes Lucia, or light in Italian and people are drawn to her quiet energy. It was interesting to see how different notable scenes from Fellini films are recreated in Italy circa 1993. Any Fellini fan will find much to savor and enjoy with this film.

The fantastical elements of this movie drove me nuts. Maybe because I once was a sheltered cinephile, I wanted this story to be more realistic. I kept asking questions like "how did she get a passport so quickly?" "why didn't she book a hotel?" and "how did she do so much walking and not get blisters?". The film kept trying to elevate me to another dimension and I kept trying to drag it back down to reality.

In Search of Fellini DVD


In Search of Fellini (2017) is available on DVD and digital.

DVD: Amazon
Digital: Amazon — iTunesFandango
Also available to rent on DVD Netflix


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