We all do it: Look at the generation after us askance, with a “so you think you’re smarter than us” kind of leer and a wish to trip them up on their own cleverness. It’s a way of holding onto our own sense of value in the world. In Parents vs Influencers, Michela Andreozzi paints a tight and pretty picture of the conflicts between the so-called “woke” generation and its parent. It will be available online and without cost, as part of the 8th European Film Festival South Africa, which runs from 14 until 24 October 2021.
Framed with a heady mix of beautiful Italianate villagey brickwork, old cars and vitriolic hilarious neighbours, the story is a bubblegummy essay that is caught up in predictability. It’s a cheery and safe, generally polite tale of social media and the ostensibly shallow role of the influencer. It’s also about where a professor of philosophy boasting old fashioned teaching credentials and homely values can fit into the morass of shameless self-love and mindless greed that is one of the power levers of the internet savvy in the 21st century.
And it is here where we meet Paolo Martinelli (Fabio Volo) and his teen daughter, Simone (Ginevra Francesconi). Or rather, we are given a succinct glimpse into loss Paolo has weathered and the complexity of his life, having raised a daughter alone from toddlerhood. As the child blossoms into one with a sense of the value of her phone, the story is flattened, and could easily be translated into any other culture, where pretty, plastic and unnuanced is de rigueur. The teenage stereotypes are jarring and the humour is easy.
Unequivocally, it is the cameo role of one of Martinelli’s neighbours – Zia Agnese (Paola Tiziano Cruciani) – the white-haired wheelchair-bound woman with a cigar in her mouth, a single son who lives with her and guileless swathes of spite and malice on her tongue, that lends this work edge and crispiness. But a cameo she is, and the grand narrative of the tale is peppered with the superlative, the selfies and the addictiveness of likes and followers in a play-play world which can be constructed with a touch screen on the spur of the moment.
It’s a story that takes all the expected bends in the road – dealing with everything from the lust for wealth to the dangers of viral internet exposure, but none of these are plummeted with too bold a prod. It’s not a dangerous tale or a moralistic one. It ties up with a happily ever after bow of pink tulle and a couple of tears caught in a miasma of sexual fluidity. Resonant to an extent with Magnus van Horn’s film Sweat, on last year’s EUFF, it also feels a lot like the grist of the American sit-com series industry, with all its easily tired jokes about one generation and another, about growing old and staying young and about being over protective and rebellious for rebelliousness’s sake.
Parents vs Influences is, in short, an easy watch. It won’t blow your head off with new ideas, and it won’t break your heart with fresh angles into a world that you know.
Parents vs Influencers (Gentori vs Influencer) is directed by Michela Andreozzi and features a cast headed by Marta Andreozzi, Michela Andreozzi, Tommaso Andreozzi, Valeria Andreozzi, Sara Baccarini, Manuela Bisanti, Andrea Bordone, Martina Sofia Brunelli, Massimiliano Bruno, Federica Cifola, Elisa Cocco, Paola Tiziana Cruciani, Matteo De Buono, Giulia De Lellis, Matilde Diana, Emma Fasano, Ginevra Francesconi, Riccardo Franzò, Nino Frassica, Luca Gaveglia, Alessandro Greggia, Alessio Imperiali, Nobuo Kusayanagi, Miki Kusayanagi, Marcello La Bella, Francesco Leo, Andrea Lepore, Susanna Maurandi, Paola Minaccioni, Martina Minei, Roberta Pompili, Ruben Mulet Porena, Carolina Rey, Ginevra Ricci, Alexandra Rosati, Fabrizio Sabatucci, Francesca Suardi, Filippo Tagliaferri, Massimiliano Vado, Fabio Volo and Marco Zingaro. Written by Michela Andreozzi and Fabio Bonifacci, it is produced by Isabella Cocuzza and Arturo Paglia and features creative input by Fabio Zamarion (cinematography), Luciana Pandolfelli (editing), Anna Pennella (casting) and Sabrina Beretta (costumes). In Italian with English subtitles, it is part of the 8th European Film Festival South Africa, screening online and without cost from 14-24 October 2021.