A Summer in Genoa – Normal Ain’t Boring

I just can’t fathom why over 90% of movies have turned into exaggerated flights of fancy.

Is everyday life so banal, so disturbing and so worthless that we must seek our release only in the bottomless pits of fantasy?

One of the charms of A Summer in Genoa is that nothing of any great significance happens in the film.

Al Qaeda is not defeated, a herpes drug is not invented, justice is not perverted, bombs are not ignited, bad guys are not defenestrated, brothers are not separated, lovers are not reunited and villains are not decapitated.

What we see on the screen in A Summer in Genoa is just a slice of everyday life of an average American family going through the vicissitudes of life.

Good Cast

But my initial decision to watch A Summer in Genoa (2008) was based solely on finding Colin Firth’s name in the cast.

Virtually unknown to most Indian movie fans, the Oscar winning British actor (Best Actor Oscar for King’s Speech) is an under-appreciated delight.

Like the actor, this movie too is little known since it didn’t even get a theatrical release in the U.S.

Directed by Michael Winterbottom based on a script he co-wrote with Laurence Coriat, A Summer in Genoa is essentially about what the title suggests – A family’s summer in the Italian city.

After the death of his wife in a car accident, Joe (Colin Firth) and his two teenage daughters Kelly (Willa Holland) and Mary (Perla Haney-Jardine) leave Chicago for Genoa.

Offered a one year position at an Italian university to teach English, Joe thinks it’d be a good idea for a change of scene for the entire family.

Once in Genoa, the older girl Kelly seeks solace and thrill in the arms of an Italian youth.

The younger girl Mary has nightmares and continues to learn the piano.

The father gives lectures and is occasionally tempted by strong overtures from one of his pretty Italian students.

There’s tension between the sisters over the car accident that claimed their mother’s life.

You might think there’s nothing to the movie, just a rambling along.

But the charm of the movie is in the way everyday life is brought to life through remarkable acting, an unpredictable story, solid photography and deft direction.

Like with all great performers, Colin Firth makes it seem like he’s not acting – You’re just taking a peek into a regular dad’s life.

Whether with the daughters, his students or the old friend from Harvard, Colin shows why he’s one of the top actors of our era.

The two young girls, Perla Haney-Jardine and Willa Holland, throw in remarkable performances in their own right.

I have no doubt that both will shine and evolve into bigger roles in the coming years.

Beautiful Photography

In a sense, the movie is an ode to Genoa like Woody Allen’s An Evening in Paris was to the French capital.

Imaginative photography by Marcel Zyskind is one of the highlights of Summer in Genoa.

The narrow alleys which seem to turn day into night and foster an ominous, foreboding element, the splendorous outdoor shots in the woods, the scooter rides and the scenes in the churches are beautifully captured.

All in all, Summer in Genoa turned out to be a happy stumble for me.

Summer in Genoa is available via streaming at Hulu Plus (luckily without ads) and on DVD at Netflix.

One Response to "A Summer in Genoa – Normal Ain’t Boring"

  1. fotobirajesh   February 7, 2014 at 5:54 am

    “I just can’t fathom why over 90% of movies have turned into exaggerated flights of fancy.”

    Probably because you are mostly watching American and Indian movies only. Watch more European – French, Danish, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, Italian and all, and even Canadian, at least 50% and even more are good, very good.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    True, and we have a good collection of Foreign (Non-Hollywood) collection of Reviews – http://www.searchindia.com/category/foreign-movies.

    We’ll add to it.

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