Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: In Search of Fellini

Ksenia Solo in In Search of Fellini

In Search of Fellini stars an always fabulous Ksenia Solo as a shy, over-protected, young woman from Ohio who discovers the films of Federico Fellini and leaves for Italy with the intention of meeting him.

Ksenia Solo and Maria Bello in In Search of Fellini

Lucy (Solo) is naive in the extreme. Her mother Claire (Maria Bello) has raised her in a fantasy land that allows in very little of the outside world. The most frequent activity for mother and daughter is to watch It’s a Wonderful Life repeatedly on their VCR and their tiny TV.

Lucy lives in a world of sweet imagination. She fills her room and her notebooks with cute, angelic drawings.

When mom gets sick, Lucy hears bits of a conversation between Claire and her sister Kerri (Mary Lynn Rajskub). They argue about something. About not telling Lucy. About Lucy needing to grow up.

Lucy is 20 and because of the conversation she decides to get a job. The job she wants to apply for is in Cleveland. She rides her Vespa there.

We see how unworldly Lucy is when she parks her Vespa where it will be impounded in Cleveland. She basically agrees to have sex with the man interviewing her – she doesn’t realize what she said yes to, she’s that naive. When she realizes what’s happening she runs.

While she’s in Cleveland, she sees a bare chested man with a chain around his chest. She follows him, and hoards of oddly dressed characters like him, into a Fellini film. She watches La Strada.

Well, Lucy has an imagination. Lucy lives in a fantasy world. But nothing like Fellini. She’s enchanted, hypnotized by the wildly original world of La Strada. She finally gets back home, minus the Vespa, with an arm full of VCR tapes of all of Fellini’s films.

She hibernates in her room and watches them all. She calls Italy and asks to speak to Fellini. The man who answers the phone, Mario (Peter Arpesella), tells her to be there tomorrow at 3 PM.

Lucy asks her mother to go to Italy with her. But Claire is too sick. She tells Lucy to go alone.

And she does.

She has no idea what she’s doing or how to cope. She ends up in Verona, not Rome. She calls Mario again and explains she’ll be late. It won’t be the last time Lucy has to call Mario with news of her strange journey toward Rome.

Ksenia Solo and Paolo Bernardini in In Search of Fellini

In Verona she meets Placido (Paolo Bernardini). He’s a wonderful man and Lucy promptly falls in love. It’s amazing that Lucy trusted him and knew he was an all right guy, because she had no experience with men.

Enough with the spoilers. I won’t tell you more of how the rest of the story goes.  In Search of Fellini is a mix of fantasy and reality, of Fellini and Italy, and of events Lucy both loves and hates. More and more of her facade, her illusions, are stripped away until the only thing left is Lucy standing bruised and dirty at the entrance to a new life.

Much of In Search of Fellini is a confusion between what’s real and what Lucy’s imagination sees through a Fellini-like lens.

More and more of her facade, her illusions, are stripped away until the only thing left is Lucy standing bruised and dirty at the entrance to a new life.I’ve never been a Fellini fan myself, and don’t see the wonder in the hedonism and costumes of some of what Lucy finds in Italy, but Lucy is dazzled and that’s the point.

I enjoyed Ksenia Solo’s performance very much. She is the reason I wanted to see this film. She looks so perfect for this part, she almost wouldn’t have to act. Nevertheless, she does, and very well.

Nancy Cartwright and Peter Kjenaas shared the writing credits. The story is based on Cartwright’s journey through Italy as a young woman. Cartwright has a small part in the film.

I inserted this tweet in my post with the trailer for In Search of Fellini, but must repeat it here.

In Search of Fellini is now available on Amazon and Netflix, and possibly other streaming services.

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4 responses to “Review: In Search of Fellini”

  1. I attempted to watch this absolute piece of garbage of a movie. But quit after the first 30 minutes. When you consider I can happily watch movies I LIKE over and over again dozens of times–to give up on an actress I do love watch is very difficult. This tho–is a plain waste of time.

  2. I actually loved this movie. I guess maybe I connected with it, because I’ve definitely been a bit of a Claire lately and it’s gotten me to start being more of a Lucy again (and Ksenia Solo is hugely talented), but… Am I weird in the fact that I don’t even know that Lucy really ever went to Italy? The part when Lucy first walks into the theatre it’s almost announced that “it’s a visual reference, like a dream, like a memory” I don’t know if this is just to state Ms. Cartwright experienced it (like a memory), or maybe that it’s “like a dream” for Lucy. I dunno … but all the characters that she meets in Italy are all in the theatre? … and the hitchhiker in Italy that is hitching to her home town, Rimini? … and the actress she meets in Italy appears to be sitting behind them in the theatre at the end. It gives the movie that “did she or didn’t she go” Wizard of Oz type vibe. What would that mean? That she just hung out in a theatre down in the city instead of dealing with her mom? And what’s with the dream opening where there is a confident dark Lucy… which she also ran into when she was in Italy? I was really expecting to find out at the end that Lucy had actually died before her mom and Aunt Kerri had just been sending postcards to the mother, Claire, until she died too… but I blame M. Night Shyamalan for that kind of thinking. (You guys in Hollywood won’t fool me again!) I also thought I might have seen a generational commentary (with the way Claire dresses and movies she watches)… but I might have been reading into that a bit. Anyway. I’d love to hear someone’s opinion.

    • Wow, you really noticed everything in this movie. To be honest I’ve never understood Fellini AT ALL. I’ve never enjoyed Fellini AT ALL. I only watched this movie because of Ksenia Solo. So I can’t resolve the questions you have. You are way ahead of me just by asking the questions.

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