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.
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.
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.
The lovely @KseniaSolo delights as “Lucy Cunningham” in a fantastical sojourn across Italy to find herself, and Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.
— In Search of Fellini (@ISOF_Movie) November 17, 2017
In Search of Fellini is now available on Amazon and Netflix, and possibly other streaming services.