Like Crazy: NZIFF Review
Blending the Tuscan sun with two unpredictable women who break out of psychiatric care should be a formula for both comedy and life-affirming.
But what Italian Paolo Virzi's managed with Like Crazy is a film that suffers a case of tonal dysfunction as much as its leads do.
Leading the pack and re-teaming with her director from Human Capital, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is the brash Beatrice, a woman who's at the Villa Biondi recovery centre but who lords it up over others and believes she's entitled to more and entitled not to be there. When punkish newcomer Donatella Morelli (Micaela Ramazotti, the film's centre and more fragile of the two) checks into the Villa, Beatrice love-bombs her into a friendship.
But more out of interest in a new thing, rather than interest of a fellow human being, Beatrice betrays the trust of the Villa to break out, dragging along the damaged Donatella with her. But Donatella has her own tragic agenda to follow...
La Pazza Gioia aka Like Crazy is Girls, Interrupted.
While the wackier edges and throwaway comments about madness seem more attempts at gallows humour, the tonal meshing of comedy with poignancy don't quite gel as they should. Tedeschi's larger than life delusions may add a sense of boorishness to proceedings, and she's never really anything more than a caricature later on in proceedings.
And certainly her breakthrough feels forced rather than natural, a tacit admission perhaps from the script writer that redemption needs to come - but registers as feeling unearned. With her Ab Fab Patsy like edges, she certainly gives the story the OTT life it needs, but never feels fully formed. (Interestingly fellow residents at Biondi are former inmates of such institutions, giving scenes a veracity and a sadness that lingers).
Fortunately, Ramazotti's character is more easy to grasp on to. Served up with pathos and tragedy, the broken Donatella is a more realistic being. It's understandable to see why she's swept along by Beatrice's folly despite her early reticence, and Ramazotti underplays every scene she's in, even if the coincidences are piled a little too high in the narrative stakes.
Ultimately, Like Crazy is a road trip that even visually mocks Thelma and Louise in its latter stages, but attempts at poignancy at the end feel contrived and so lose some of their effect. It's understandable what this road trip was trying to do - but its final destination doesn't quite merit the journey.