L’Arminuta: the pain and hope of a broken family

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The girl, both in Giuseppe Bonito’s film and in Donatella Di Pietrantonio’s novel from which it is based, has no name. They call her L’Arminuta, that is the “returned”, an Abruzzo dialect epithet that the girl earns in spite of being returned to her biological family after living for thirteen years with the family she thought was hers. We will discover the reason only at the end of this story made of silences and suspensions that brings with it all the anguish and estrangement of the protagonist who, suddenly, finds herself leaving her middle-class existence to move to a rural context that , although set in 1975, it seems antecedent for the backwardness and the colors, the way of acting and thinking.

Confronting this new world, where the eyes are full of sadness, the shoulders are bent and the clothes always to mend, is for Arminuta a question of survival: inside she is convinced that it is all a mistake and that her mother (Elena Lietti) and her father will soon realize they have made a mistake and will bring her back to what she believed normality. On the other hand, he knows that, in order to continue to exist, he needs to create alliances and do his best to bring home results. While at school he achieves an average of 10 proving to be an exceptional promise of literature, in the bare, dark and cold house in which he lives, Arminuta is looking for solidarity. In front of two parents, masterfully interpreted by Fabrizio Ferracane (which we will see soon in Leonora Farewell by Paolo Taviani and in the series The Bad Guy produced by Indigo Film for Prime Video) and Vanessa Scalera, sulky and melancholy, bent by a sense of duty and unable to give themselves something for themselves, Arminuta manages to bond above all with little Adriana (Carlotta De Leonardis, very good) and with her eighteen-year-old brother Vincenzo (Andrea Fuorto).

Everything around her seems hostile and muffled, at least until the pieces are reassembled and the picture becomes clearer. Based on Di Pietrantonio’s best-seller of the same name, winner of the Campiello Prize in 2017, L’Arminuta, premiered at the Rome Film Fest and in cinemas from 21 October, as well as underlining Bonito’s incredible directorial talent, in his third film later Flea e Sons, the latter written by Mattia Torre, highlights the skill of its young protagonist, played by the newcomer Sofia Fiore, and the constant search for an inner balance that is well reflected in the space occupied by the girl. In stark contrast to the dull and neorealist colors of his natural family, the childhood places and clothes of Arminuta are an explosion of colors, the illusion that happiness can be hidden behind those colors. The interrupted desires, a family bond that, more than broken, has never had the time and the way to tighten these are the strong points of an intimate and intimate film capable of making us re-appreciate the little things and make us leave the room a little lighter, reassured by a strange suspension. L’Arminuta is produced by Maro Film, Baires Produzioni, Kaf with Rai Cinema and distributed by Lucky Red.

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