Film review | Fortunata: Some call it luck

Fortunata is a moving story that hits home and entertains along the way but at the same time, leaves the viewer wondering whether some of its final outcomes could have been a little less forced, a little less melodramatic • 3/5

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
13 June 2017, 7:30am
Jasmine Trinca took home the Un Certain Regard prize from Cannes for her portrayal of the beleaguered, titular single mum in  Sergio Castellitto’s Fortunata
Jasmine Trinca took home the Un Certain Regard prize from Cannes for her portrayal of the beleaguered, titular single mum in Sergio Castellitto’s Fortunata
On the periphery of a Rome that’s dusty, multicultural and always glimpsed in a hurry, runs – like an invisible torrent through the drained ancient acqueducts – the scattered and frantic life of Fortunata (Jasmine Trinca, winner of the ‘Un Certain Regard’ Prize at Cannes). 

Peroxide blonde hair, wedges, mini skirt, a suitcase and an eight-year-old daughter Barbara (Nicole Centanni) always at her tail, Fortunata tries to make ends meet by working as a hairdresser off the books; pinballing from one side of Rome to another while dreaming of opening her own hairdressing salon with a childhood friend, Chicano (Alessandro Borghi) and to finally free herself from the clutches of her domineering and vulgar husband  (Edoardo Pesce). 

With the shell of a social realist drama populated by tragicomic characters who are by turns desperate and violent, Sergio Castellitto’s film – written by his wife and long time collaborator Margaret Mazzantini – puts forward a constellation of destinies that are bound to be repeated, bringing to light the ties that bind mother and son, or the theme of the absent or surrogate father or guardian, like the ambiguous psychologist (Stefano Accorsi), who makes it his task to treat Barbara, only to abandon her in the end. 

This journey strings the viewer along on a fluid trajectory, across beach fronts to aquariums and water walls, by way of people who drown and children who spit. It is also a film that is continuously opening up passageways into classical tragedy, where the delirious verses of an Alzheimer’s-ridden former actress (Hanna Schygulla) echo Antigone, which is in turn bolstered by its focus on the battle between moral law and institutional law waged by the junkie Chicano, in the resolute scream by our protagonist – not incidentally delivered in a setting that recalls a Greek theatre. 

Fortunata is a moving story that hits home and entertains along the way but at the same time, leaves the viewer wondering whether some of its final outcomes could have been a little less forced, a little less melodramatic... if things could not have turned out a little better for our protagonist – even if it would all have been make believe: a bit of freedom to enjoy over a single afternoon. 

Fortunata will inaugurate the third edition of the Valletta Film Festival, with a screening taking place at Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Valletta on June 16 at 20:45. For more information and bookings, log on to http://www.vallettafilmfestival.com/ 

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...