Review: Amanda is a unique and refreshing take on the coming-of-age story, anchored by a phenomenal performance by Benedetta Porcaroli and an acidic, deadpan script by Carolina Cavalli.
Forget what you thought you knew about coming-of-age stories. Carolina Cavalli‘s directorial debut, Amanda, throws the rulebook out the window and crafts a deadpan, charmingly oddball odyssey about a 24-year-old woman who, quite frankly, doesn’t give a damn about “figuring her life out.”
Benedetta Porcaroli is Amanda, and her performance is quite a revelation. With Kristen Stewart-esque expressions that flicker between vacant and simmering intensity, Porcaroli captures the essence of this outsider who rejects societal expectations with outbursts of rebellion. She’s both endearingly awkward and infuriatingly aloof, a walking contradiction that somehow feels utterly genuine and unique.
And the film itself is a visual feast. Cavalli utilizes the stunning Italian infrastructure to create a backdrop that’s both opulent and isolating, perfectly mirroring Amanda’s internal conflict. Think Wes Anderson on an existential bender, with splashes of Italian flair and a hearty dose of dry wit.
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The humor is as unconventional as the plot. It’s deadpan, subtle, and often hinges on Amanda’s hilariously blunt observations. This approach has been tried often in the past by many movies, and often doesn’t work well. The movie is essentially focused on Amanda’s relentless attempts to remind and convince her childhood friend Rebecca (Galatéa Bellugi) that they’re still best friends, which is equal parts cringe-inducing and strangely touching.
This unique approach to story and character is what makes Amanda such a riveting introduction to Cavalli and Porcaroli. The two make for a perfect pairing, as Cavalli provides a remarkably strong and idiosyncratic script, and Porcaroli displays a lanky, quirky, and constantly unsure performance of a 15-year-old trapped in a 24-year-old’s body.
And for all of these reasons, Amanda is a unique and refreshing take on the coming-of-age story, anchored by phenomenal performances and technical work. It’s funny, odd, and strangely beautiful, a film that dares to be different and succeeds spectacularly. It feels like my first truly unique find of 2024, one I’m sure to return to sometime in the near future.
Watch Amanda on The Criterion Channel and VOD
Amanda (2023) Cast and Credits
Benedetta Porcaroli as Amanda
Galatéa Bellugi as Rebecca
Michele Bravi as Dude
Monica Nappo as Sofia
Director: Carolina Cavalli
Writer: Carolina Cavalli
Cinematography: Lorenzo Levrini
Editor: Babak Jalali
Composer: Niccolò Contessa