Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Summer in Genoa (DVD Review)

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, A Mighty Heart, 24 Hour Party People)
Cast: Colin Firth, Catherine Keener, Willa Holland, Perla Haney-Jardine, Hope Davis
UK, 2009

Reason to see: Looks like a touching family drama with a possible supernatural flare

A Summer in Genoa is a touching drama centred on the family after they have endured a tragic accident. The change of scenery and decision to spend the summer away provides a change of pace that allows each family member to react, reflect or just live day by day in the wake of the tragedy.

I really enjoyed the understated and relaxed atmosphere of the film, which really allowed you to feel like a completely non-invasive fly on the wall while watching the daily family life unfold. The beauty of the film is in it's subtly, not only in the fantastic performances but also in the gentle pacing and emotional realness that honestly captures family dynamics in trying times. It's always emotional, but never showy or over the top We really get to see the gentle shifting and family reformation as everyone tries to resist the new family shape or try to fit back in where they've always been.

There is lots of beautiful and complex moments that speak emotional truths, especially between the Kelly and Mary (played by Willa Holland and Perla Haney-Jardine) who play sisters on opposite ends of the teens which can lead to lots of opportunity for the need for independence conflicting with the need to hang out together. I also really enjoyed Colin Firth as the understated Joe, and he really gets across the gentle touch on holding the family together through trying times.

I had hoped there would be a bit more of the supernatural feel to the film, but at it's heart the films focus is firmly centred on the overall family experience and how the same experience can effected different people and different ways. A Summer in Genoa speaks multiple emotional truths, from haunting to joyful, from strange to strained, but always authentic. It's quite a feat and that beautiful authenticity takes the viewer on quite a fascinating journey..

DVD Extras:
  • Cast & Crew Interviews (20 minutes) insightful interviews with director Michael Winterbottom, producer Andrew Eaton and actors Colin Firth, Catherine Keener, Willa Holland, Perla Haney-Jardine and Hope Davis on the personal nature of the film, plot & background, characters, filming in Genova, method of working and a summary of the experience of the process and working together.
  • Behind the Scenes (6 minutes) behind the scenes footage of preparation for and the actual first day of shooting in Genova as well several outdoor location scenes.
  • Trailer
A Summer in Genoa is available on DVD as of April 12, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of family dramas with strong emotional centres

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Image: Colin Firth, Perla Haney-Jardine and Willa Holland. Courtesy of eOne Films

Image: Colin Firth in Summer in Genoa. Courtesy of eOne Films


blake said...

Wow, I've never heard of this and I loved Catherine Keener and Colin Firth. I'll be checking this out.

donna g said...

I tried to watch this film when it was at TIFF a few years ago. There was a buzz about the film and I hurried to the screening room to see it: I love films set in Italy and it had Colin Firth. Unfortunately, the film didn't work for me. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I found it to be a run of the mill drama about people I didn't care a great deal about. I usually love films about family, but couldn't connect with the family in this one.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I hope you enjoy it Blake!!

I can totally understand your reaction Donna, and I might have had the same in a festival setting - it's amazing the difference of when/how we see things can play into things.

I really liked the quiet, natural nature of this film. How it felt very day in the life of, but often just ordinary days during trying times.

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