Run time: 99 mins
A mother and her eldest child negotiate parallel realms of unhappiness in Emanuele Crialese’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama.
Penelope Cruz is Clara, an expatriate Spanish mother-of-three living in Rome who is increasingly unable to ignore the fact that her businessman husband Felice (Vincenzo Amato) is cheating on her with his secretary: an indiscretion which he regards as his entitlement. Their eldest daughter Adri (Luana Giuliani) has issues with gender dysphoria and now wears boy’s clothes, identifies as a boy, and adopts the name “Andrea”. Conservative Roman society is not sympathetic towards a child who questions their gender identity; nor is it forgiving of women such as impulsive, wildly unhappy Clara who don’t quite toe the line.
The film spins off into moments of unpredictable fantasy – musical numbers inspired by television variety shows. Clara’s defiant yellow coat sets her apart on the streets of the city; at Catholic school, the girls – and a miserable, mutinous Andrea – wear virginal white surplice-style tunics, while boys get to wear black. Andrea, the film suggests, is trying to claim a place in a world that still sees in black and white