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LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI

SYNOPSIS:
Josie Alibrandi (Pia Miranda) lives with her mum, Christina (Greta Scacchi), in the protective shadow of her Nonna, Katia (Elena Cotta) and in ignorance of the identity of her father, Michael (Anthony LaPaglia). She is 17 and about to face the biggest year of her life so far, finishing school. It should be enough that she has to cope with her weird Italian heritage and the fact that she's about to do her HSC exams as a scholarship student at an exclusive girls' school with high expectations of getting into university to study law. In this watershed year she discovers boys, tragedy and joy, the identity of her father, and, most of all, she begins to work out who she really is

"There's so much to enjoy in this film and for all the right reasons: it engages, it entertains, it holds up a mirror to Australian society in many understated ways, and it makes sense of its subject matter in a humane and light-handed (but not shallow) way. It also boasts outstanding performances: Greta Scacchi is at her new, mature and confident best; Pia Miranda is remarkably fluent and nuanced; Anthony LaPaglia is superbly controlled; and Kick Gurry is an absolute standout as Jacob Coote, the irreverent, more-to-him-than-meets-the-eye captain of the local high school. The tone and mood of the film is perfectly judged by director Kate Woods, especially at some of the crucial moments where the tone changes dramatically. The essence of the story is of growing up with Italian traditions in a broken family in an Australian suburb; not a bad collection of elements for a movie, and here the filmmakers waste nothing in turning the elements into a coherent whole, making best use of cinematography, music and performances."
Andrew L. Urban

"Capturing the vibrancy of the multi-cultural society in which we live, Looking for Alibrandi echoes the essential family values for which we strive with humour, poignancy and flair. Melina Marchetta's beautifully structured screenplay allows the world of the Alibrandi family to be not only totally accessible, but very real. Striking cinematography and direction reveal Sydney in all her glory, while superb performances allow the characters to become our friends. Newcomer Pia Miranda is astounding as Josie, her eyes enormous saucers of liquid chocolate, her emotions displayed unselfconsciously on her sleeve. So too is Kick Gurry who plays Jacob his screen charisma is simply magnetic. But everyone in the cast is excellent: Greta Scaachi reveals a very comfortable confidence, while Anthony LaPaglia is just right in a small but important role. Ignorance keeps us safe, we are told. Once we lose that ignorance, things are never the same: we need to change in order to adapt. From the clash of cleavages, cultural cringe, class distinction, emotional insecurities, school-books, rosaries and family secrets, Looking for Alibrandi is about belonging and accepting the foundations on which our lives are built. Tradition is pitted against superstition; dreams against realities; guilt against acceptance. There is something here for everyone the journey is emotionally rich and explodes with colour. The humour is wry and endearing; the music lively and appealing. At times your heart may break a little, but be assured, when you leave, a spontaneous joie-de-vivre feeling will transfer itself, like a gift that is yours to take away."
Louise Keller

"This is a good teen film and a very good Australian one. Based on the much loved (and, ironically, much studied for the HSC) novel of the same name, Looking For Alibrandi beautifully explores multiculturalism, family, class, and adolescence in Australia. First time feature film director Kate Woods has successfully avoided the trap that a great many Australian directors fall into: the easy lure of caricature and parody. Instead, thanks largely to novelist Melina Marchetta's tight screenplay, she has delivered fully rounded characters in situations brimming with reality. Producing a film such as this is fraught with danger as it aims directly at teenagers, many of whom have read and loved the book. Judging by the tears rolling down the faces and knowing smiles of the teens in the audience at this screening, Woods and Marchetta have satisfied a most critical audience. Which is not to say it doesn't speak to adults or those who have not read the book. It does. The key factor is the fact that the story is told from the point of view of Josie Alibrandi. With her we come to understand what it is to grow up in an Italian family today as well as so many of the issues teens must face. Pia Miranda gives the performance of her fledgling acting career as she brings Josie from cynical kid to a young adult who has begun to understand the complexities of her world. She is ably supported by the entire ensemble, with Kerry Walker once again handing in a delightful turn. Funny, sad, and insightful, Looking For Alibrandi should be seen by the wide audience it deserves."
Lee Gough

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

GRETA SCACCHI

See Andrew L. Urban's
ONSET feature.

See our SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

TRAILER

LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI (PG)
(AUS)

CAST: Greta Scacchi, Anthony LaPaglia, Elena Cotta, Kerry Walker, Pia Miranda, Kick Gurry, Matt Newton, Leanne Carlow, Diane Viduka, Leeanna Walsman, Graeme Blundell

DIRECTOR: Kate Woods

PRODUCER: Robyn Kershaw

SCRIPT: Melina Marchetta (also novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Toby Oliver

EDITOR: Martin Connor

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Curtis

MUSIC: Alan John

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 4, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: October 31, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment







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