This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Year of the Fox has its World Premier on Wednesday, May 17 2023.
One of my goals this festival was definitely to watch as many films with subtitles as possible. I just don’t get enough foreign films throughout the year, unless its a really special occasion big event film, or if it is rushing for awards at the end. Still though, most of the films at least have a title I can pronounce confidently. So that made me excited to see L’immensita, which I have no clue if I am saying it right, and no one will ever be able to correct me. I will have to live with potentially pronouncing it wrong for the rest of my life.
And sure, it does help that it was starring a world famous actress in the lead role too. Sure yeah, of course.
Wow, look how excited she is to be at this dinner.
In the 1970’s, Italy was the place to be. Well, to be fair, Italy has been the place to be for many different decades. Heck, some of them thousands of years ago. I am sure right now today, 2020’s, Italy is the place to be. (I really want to go to Italy, goddamn it).
Anyways, Clara (Penelope Cruz), a Spaniard who moved to Italy, is married to Felice (Vincenzo Amato), and they have three kids! Clara is a bit of a free spirited individual, who loves her kids more than anything. Including her husband, because he is a rich dick. Speaking of kids, their oldest kid, Adriana (Luana Giuliani), doesn’t actually feel like a girl. She is getting that gender dysphoria real bad, but it is the 1970’s and that isn’t something commonly talked about. So she decides to go by Andrea (a masculine name in Italy), and start using he/him pronouns with his friends, siblings, and mother. And guess what, his mom is totally down with it all.
Because you know, free spirited! But obviously at any point in human history, being trans has not been an easy experience, and it is only small percentage points easier now than it was 50 years ago. Having a small support isn’t a lot, especially when your dad would freak out over the concept, and if your dad is already abusive towards you mom, well. Not a lot to protect you, unfortunately.
This is what it looks like when I take my kids to good movies as well.
There aren’t a lot of “trans” stories set outside of the last twenty years, which is a real big untapped market. I am not an expert on the genre of course, but I do think I only know of one other one off the top of my head, and that is a bit disappointing. So great on them for tackling this subject. And the film itself being beautifully shot, in rich Italian countryside and seas and streets. It is gorgeous to look at in what remains a relatively simple story.
It was a very interesting decision to really tell two stories here. The obvious one, of the kid here. But also of the mom, in an unhappy place in life, just trying to give spark and joy to those whom she thinks need it most. And how she gets villainized for it. For being accepting and free. It is hard to see. But it is a great character.
And one very other important note here. There are several music/dance numbers in this movie. Sort of out of nowhere. Andrea fancies himself a star in these videos he has seen, so we get to see them reenacting these scenes from the television. Now, when the song Prisencolinensinainciusol came on the television halfway through, I was so excited to see it in such a weird place in the movie, just so casually. Probably my favorite song from Italy in the 1970’s (also the only one I know in this period). So I was so giddy beside myself when our two leads took the two roles of the sings as well, Giulani and Cruz, and it was recreated for our eyes. It was a treat I didn’t know to expect or that I wanted, but certainly one I needed.
Anyways, yes. Representation matters! This story is beautiful and simple and of course, sad. Cruz is always a delight. And I will never know how to say this title.