Friends till death

Review by Marzia Gandolfi

Monday 4 March 2013

On an unspecified island in southern Italy live three different women in character, (behavior) and costume. Gilda, intense and true ‘boccadirosa’, has arrived from the continent to bring joy to tuna fishermen, Olivia, naive and faithful wife, is married to the most beautiful boy in the country and suffers for this the envy of the wives, Crocetta, modest and clumsy, she is hated by men and bears a jinx license. Involved by Olivia in the cold-blooded murder of her husband, thief and faithless, the women try to cover up the incident and hide the huge loot accumulated by the man in numerous robberies. Their curious frequentation and sharing the same roof make a handsome police commissioner suspicious, born on the mainland and intolerant of the billows. United beyond the diet and the ideals to pursue, Gilda, Olivia and Crocetta will together find the way to the continent and the future.
Mix of detective investigation, sitcom and friendly comedy, Friends till death is a singular product in the panorama of Italian cinema, which counts few women directors and few humorous roles for women in front of the camera. There are at least two reasons for its singularity: it does not resolve the polemical clash between man and woman in a romantic key and it does not affirm stable and reciprocated love as a value. Allowing a freer and more individualistic style to win, Giorgia Farina’s black comedy is indebted to those great narratives that are American TV series today, real contemporary feuilletons.
By geographically placing her protagonists in a quiet and conventional province, where one has fully adhered to tradition by getting married, the other has abdicated the role of saint and the other has left out femininity, the Roman director looks at desperate Housewives of the ABC, staging a strong and closed female nucleus within the walls of the house. The bond between the Farina girls, induced by environmental constraints and obvious economic interests, acts as a barrier to a murder and family and personal disasters. Moved by different rhythms, aspirations and problems, which then find a composition in an affective-solidarity key, Gilda, Olivia and Crocetta are not well-rounded characters but characters constructed and stereotyped from a comedy of art: the arrogant husband-throb, the ingenue , the clumsy spinster.
Credibly played by Claudia Gerini, Cristiana Capotondi and Sabrina Impacciatore, they still remain likeable specks embodying their prototype to perfection. Traditionalists, uninhibited or insecure, the dimension of predictability within which they operate is however subverted with a plot twist and two pistol shots, converting the yellow and investigative aspect of the film into pochade, where everything is exaggerated and paradoxically arranged. Ungovernable and fierce in delinquent deviance, the protagonists will have the better of men, creating a symbiotic relationship and fueling strong conflicts that are always resolved within a humorous register. The coalition, strengthened by a promise of a better future on the continent, proves effective against the sentimental disappointments, the prevailing machismo, the backbiting of the wives and the exaggerated narcissism of the police commissioner of Vinicio Marchioni, who defines himself by contrast and in contrast shipwrecked, beaten by the feminine and by the waves.
Shot in Puglia, in a landscape steeped in Mediterranean moods and flavours, Best friend he loses some of his courage in the epilogue, where the trigger jams this time, losing characters who had soaked their irrepressible aggressiveness and their irreducible ‘sovereignty’ in blood. Soaked in a SPA they chase vain ghosts ‘squealing’ and sinking the female anxieties staged without making themselves different now that they had finally gone far.

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Friends till death