Italian writer-director Carolina Cavalli’s sleek, stylish debut, Amanda, is played like Lady Bird by Wes Anderson’s deadpan existentialism. Its heroine, Prickly Amanda (Benedetta Porcaroli), is a college graduate and daughter of a wealthy pharmacy owner who prefers to fiddle with her thumbs rather than work. Afraid to socialize with people her age, she claims she prefers to spend time with her pre-adolescent niece and maid at her family’s mansion. She secretly kills people for her meaningful companionship, but before that she must learn not to bite.
Equipped with a profuse verbal snapback, Amanda roams her northern Italian hometown dotted with brutalist buildings and empty parking lots with the steely determination of a hustler. Her “hustle” is simply amassing enough department store loyalty her points to win prizes. , a humble standing fan that could otherwise be easily purchased.
When Amanda’s mother (Monica Nappo) suggests they find Rebecca (Galatea Beluge), the misanthropic daughter of another rich family, Technically Old friends (like the girls went on playdates when they were toddlers) — Amanda throws herself into relationships like a last-quarter running back. Agoraphobic and refusing to leave her room, Rebecca wears her own armor, but when she and Amanda finally get to know each other, her unique cocktail of neuroticism mixes with her. Something like a chemical explosion occurs.
The snappy script teases the delusions of the friends and unites them with an apathy born of extreme privilege. Beyond its own style, the color-blocked quirkiness of the setpiece is justified in such a gratuitous wealth and the sense of boundless yet empty time it creates for those who wield it. , somehow feels more effectively funny. That’s why Cavalli’s portrait feels so rich. Amanda is absurd and aggressive, but also sympathetic thanks to Porcaroli’s acting. She is a fiery narcissist with a sticky core of vulnerability, tempered by her fear of letting herself be known.
Unrated. Italian with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. at the theater.