English Title: Like Crazy
Original Title: La pazza gioia
Country: Italy, France
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Paolo Virzì
Music: Carlo Virzì
Cinematography: Vladan Radovic
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
One of the key players of current Italian cinema, Paolo Virzì’s newest offering LIKE CRAZY brings audience to the sun-drenched Toscana, where nestles a home for the mentally unstable (a picturesque mise-en-scène peppered with creditable employees and patients), there we meet Beatrice (Tedeschi), a motormouth screwball who can compulsively babble on and on as long as she can find an audience, and Donatella (Ramazzotti, Ms. Virzì in real life), a diffident introvert masked by her tattoo-embroidered body and punk appearance, who is ailed by depression and a tendency of violence.
Beatrice befriends the newly arrived Donatella, who becomes the newest recipient of her predominantly one-sided pattering, but Beatrice also reciprocally brings a pint of energy into Donatella’s colorless life, for the clinical aspect, they transmit salutary influences on each other, a defining vindication of the existence of such communal facilities. One day, during a field day, when their pick-up is late, Beatrice impulsively dashes to a bus with Donatella tagging along, against others’ opposition, hence the duo embarks on a journey fueled by spontaneous decisions and devil-might-care drollness, if not wholly realistic, a similar mode of Ridley Scott’s THELMA AND LOUSIE (1991) except that there will be no place for body count and radical feminist manifesto to temper Virzì’s well wrought combo of farce and drama.
The onus of farcical bombast is aptly falls upon the shoulders of Ms. Tedeschi, and it is pretty much up her alley to conjure up an inexorably flamboyant character takes no prisoners in her maniacal loquacity, verbally challenges, needles, assaults everyone she meets or around her, which sometimes feels too specific for an Italian-speaking context, her “crazy-ness” is unequivocally the driven force of the duo’s on-the-run caper, but at moments when sensibility and sagacity is required, e.g. during the conversation with the foster parents of Donatella’s son, she can also function as a qualified interlocutor who is not self-absorbed and eloquent enough to make her points clear. Yes, Donatella has a toddler son which she has to forsake due to her unwell conditions, and it is through Donatella’s back-story, where clichéd scenario of a woman buffeted by unworthy parents, atrocious sleazes and a traumatic severance between a mother and her son hits all the notes, life renders her completely helpless and disillusioned, but even so, miraculously, buoyed up by Beatrice’s undimmed vivacity and “craziness”, eventually Donatello procures a glimpse of hope in the faintly mawkish encounter with her unwitting tot, to predictably affix a non-confrontational ending to this ostensibly rebellious yarn against bureaucracy, authority, patriarchy and the Establishment.
Both actresses register impressive performances albeit the script isn’t always coruscating with golden ideas, Tedeschi dominates in her unfettered oomph and gumption while Ramazzoti diametrically sears in her distressed transmogrification, but it is the former’s all-out flair entrances audience, not just being a brazen laughing-stock, underneath Beatrice’s grandiloquent veneer, there lies a dysfunctional human being dragged into neurosis and illusion through her own dopiness and those inimical exterior forces, from this regard, both are nevertheless victims on similar grounds, but ultimately, it seems, Virzì consciously cops out to unleash its sociological critique and instead, sends a more anodyne message of a circular conclusion without disturbing the status quo.