Film & TV

ST. ALi Italian Film Festival: You Came Back

Stefano Accorsi stars as a man torn between grief for his dead son, and the upcoming birth of a new child.

The ST. ALi Italian Film Festival has returned for yet another year. Bringing with it a steady lineup of local films that will help transport to all corners of the foot-shaped country. 

One of the films in its line-up is Stefano Mordini’s gritty-thriller You Came Back, (Lasciami andare)  Starring Stefano Accorsi, the film (which was chosen to close the 77th Venice International Film Festival) follows Marco (Accorsi), a man torn between the past and the future. 

When Marco and his wife Anita (Serena Rossi) discover they are expecting a child together, they are elated. Particularly, Marco, given he still bears the scars of tragically losing his firstborn son Leo, whom he shared with his former wife Clara. However, things quickly turn awry for Marco in his journey onto new beginnings when the new occupant of Clara and Marco’s old marital home begins feeling a strange presence in the house-disrupting all their lives. Marco soon finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place as he is caught between his tormented past and hopeful future. 

Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Christopher Coake. We first meet protagonist Marco as he jogs through the rugged streets of Venice, passing by swarms of people going about their day. In this scene, Luigi Martinucci’s vivid cinematography provides the audience with the perfect scenic tour of Italy’s ‘City of Water’, while Massimo Fiocchi’s fast-paced score perfectly matches up to the pace that Marco is jogging there. It has a way of making you feel deeply nostalgic if you have had the opportunity to visit this city. Drumming up memories of Venice’s iconic Bridge of Sighs, the architectural marvel that is St Mark’s Basilica and of course, those unforgettable canals. 

As the film progresses, it is evident that the overall tone of the film which is highlighted by Martinucci’s cinematography is somewhat ominous. Even in the film’s happier, light-hearted moments, such as when Marco’s partner Anita discovers she is expecting, there is the subtle hint of darkness. It is perhaps Mordini’s way of highlighting that in spite of these exciting beginnings in Marco’s life, there is still a darkness lingering-making it difficult to move forward.  

You Came Back is also littered with flashbacks. Mordini uses the flashback scenes to not only highlight moments from Marco’s past but also to convey why it is so difficult for him to move forward. It’s a heavy reminder of how difficult it is to deal with grief head-on. 

Marco’s inability to move forward is something portrayed well by Accorsi, as you get the sense that he is never entirely happy or that he is searching for something that is missing from his life. This is particularly felt as he travels up and down the canals, he almost feels lost. His performance is supported by Maya Sansa’s, who plays Clara. For mothers, in particular, enduring the loss of losing a child is a pain that is almost unimaginable. And when you see Clara, it is evident that there is pain behind her eyes. You can tell Clara still carries somewhat of a torch for Marco not romantically, but rather because is a connection to the son she is mourning. 

While at first glance Mordini’s film appears to be a simple tale about superstition and the paranormal, it is so much more than that. You Came Back is an example of how moving forward and picking up the pieces after a tragic event is perhaps more terrifying than the fear of what we cannot see. It also provides insight into how we as humans all grieve in our own very unique ways. And while the work does fall victim to pacing issues at times making some scenes appear as if they are moving at a very sluggish speed, the well-rounded performances and Mordini’s unique screenplay more than compensate for this.

You Came Back is currently screening as part of the ST. ALi Italian Film Festival at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect.
To book tickets, click here.

Insightful 3.5 stars

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