The Italian Spotlight section of the 16th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival (April 23–30) focused on Rolando Ravello’s second movie as a director: Do You Remember Me? (Ti Ricordi di Me? 2014).
The Italian Spotlight was part of a larger European Showcase, including a Swedish, a French and a German movie, all representing their respective countries. Taking a look at the Festival as a whole, aside from featuring the best of the recent U.S. indie and mainstream films, it gave full coverage to new releases from the U.K., Canada and the Pacific Rim.
Rolando Ravello, after a noteworthy past as actor, starring in such outstanding films by Ettore Scola the likes of Romanzo di un giovane povero (1995), The Dinner (1998), Unfair Competition (2001) and Gente di Roma (2003), debuted as director and co-screenwriter with the comedy Tutti contro tutti (2013).
Ravello’s latest romantic comedy Do You Remember Me? is based on Massimiliano Bruno’s theater play of the same name (2012) and clearly shows Ravello’s craft in directing the cast, especially the two leads, who act in perfect harmony with each other.
The Italian romance somehow reminds of the 2004 American romantic comedy 50 First Dates. In fact, both female protagonists Beatrice (Bea) and Lucy - played respectively by Ambra Angiolini and Drew Barrymore - suffer from a similar amnesiac pathology, which “erased” their memories, forcing their lovers Roberto and Henry - played respectively by Edoardo Leo and Adam Sandler - to restart their courtship from scratch, over and over again. However, Bea is affected also by another mental condition, narcolepsy, while Roberto himself is a kleptomaniac.
Ravello’s film is part of a well-established trend in the most recent Italian comic tradition, in which psychoanalysis and, particularly, therapists are trivialized and ridiculed. This comedic choice seems to be dear to Paolo Genovese, who co-wrote the movie and whose Tutta colpa di Freud (2014) similarly dumbed down the theories of the father of psychoanalysis.
As far as the subplot is concerned, it is hard to identify with Francesco, the police officer, who is also the husband of Valeria, Roberto’s sister. He is an extremely contradictory character, who doesn’t show any signs of love toward his affectionate wife and, at the same time, doesn’t know what he wants until Valeria abandons him, making him fall into a deep state of depression.
Surely, the audience attending to the European Showcase Party afterwards shook any gloominess off. The festive event was hosted in the unconventional and exceptional setting of SoCo, one of the finest interior design centers in Southern California.
In the patio area, decorated by a marvelous Leaning Tower of Pisa’s ice sculpture, the most delicious hors-d’oeuvres were served, prepared by award-winning Orange County Italian restaurants. In the wide locale inside, professional drawers created portrays of the guests, like in the best tradition of the Italian piazzas. Multiple bars offered plenty of drink options, from Tito’s Vodka to Remy Cointreau and Stella Artois, to make even the shiest partygoers go wild, accompanied by an energetic soundtrack.