Antonio is a young, promising soccer player. At 17 he is going to school, maintaining a gruelling training schedule, working most nights at a service station, and caring for his mentally ill mother, Miriam. He struggles against the desire of social services to remove him from her, then sees a chance for a new start when he is offered a trial with major club.
This incredible mother-son tale is both delicate and uncomfortable. Anna Foglietta gives a powerhouse performance as Miriam. There is a wonderful chemistry between her and Giampiero De Concilio as Antonio.
Like The Champion, another film in this year’s festival, a young soccer player is the major character. It’s interesting to contrast the football action of the two: the former showing the glamour of AS Roma, while this movie gives us the regional clubs, playing on half-dead fields. Yet it is boys like Antonio, who eventually become the Roma stars, sometimes against the sort of odds that Antonio faces.
This is director Ciro d’Emilio’s first feature and shows maturity and depth. The screenplay was co-written with Cosimo Calamini. Antonella di Martino’s production design is perfect, reflecting both the grittiness and the warmth of the relationship at the heart of this narrative.
An extraordinary debut, we watch expectantly to see what d’Emilio does next in what is sure to be an incredible cinematic career.
If Life Gives You Lemons is showing as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival running until October 23rd at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect.
Click here for screening times.