Review: 18 Presents (18 Regali)

Vittoria Puccini and Benedetta Porcaroli in 18 Presents

18 Presents (18 Regali) is an Italian language movie streaming on Netflix. It’s based on a true story about a dying mom who leaves presents for her newborn for every year until she’s 18.

18 Presents (18 Regali) sounds from the description like it should be a sentimental tearjerker. It is not that. Well, maybe a little bit of a tearjerker.

Vittoria Puccini in 18 Presents

When pregnant Elisa (Vittoria Puccini) learns she has cancer she joins a support group. With their help she figures out presents to leave for her daughter’s birthday for the next 18 years.

We see a montage of the father, Alessio (Edoardo Leo), delivering the gifts. By about age 7 we realize little Anna, played brilliantly as a teen by Benedetta Porcaroli, doesn’t like getting presents from an absent mother. In fact she’s mad about it. She’d rather have a mom.

By the time Anna is to turn 18, she’s a rebellious young woman who is bitter about the birthday ritual she must go through one more time.

Then the film takes a turn. I don’t know whether to describe it as fantasy or science fiction or some kind of magic. It isn’t what you were expecting, let’s put it that way. And I’m not going to give you any spoilers about it.

Vittoria Puccini and Edoardo Leo in 18 Presents

That plot twist is what lifts this film from being exactly what you were expecting and turns it into something impossible but a little bit wonderful. It made it more interesting than sentimental for me.

Based on the well-known and loved story in Italy of Elisa Girotto, the film was required to have a happy ending. It came though with one.

The poster for 18 presents

You can see a trailer with English subtitles on Netflix. Here is the only one I could find to share. Hat tip to my Twitter pal Angela Thompson for bringing this film to my attention. She knows my taste!

Does 18 Presents (18 Regali) sound like something you’d enjoy?

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