Genova (UK, 2008)

Gripping grief

This is a terrific dissection of dealing with grief  that portrays a family’s attempts to come to terms with the loss of a mother. Her two girls and  husband take a sabbatical in Genova: the eldest daughter starts exploring her sexuality; the youngest is ‘haunted’ by her mother’s ghost and guilt. Despite the haunting this isn’t a horror movie, though there are several moments of suspense.

Genova is portrayed as a beautiful and threatening, to the newcomers, place and the narrative skips between events, offering slices of the family’s life. There’s no need to spell out the father’s (Colin Firth) discomfort at his eldest daughter’s behaviour as he tries to accept that his eldest is no longer a little girl, it’s implied through performance and scenes where nothing happens, such as of him waiting for her to return. Firth is excellent, as are the actors playing the girls. Catherine Keener is marvellous as the friend who obviously longs for the dad; she reminded me of Barbara Bel Geddes’ character in Vertigo.

I particularly liked the used of sound, the mix sometimes highlighted the ambient sound to disconcerting effect and this was emphasised by jump cuts in the editing.

Bechdel test: Pass (5/3)
Protagonist: Female (1/4)

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