Vesna Goes Fast

Vesna Tereza Zajickova

Vesna Tereza Zajickova

Antonio Antonio Albanese

With: Silvio Orlando, Stefano Accorsi, Antonio Catania, Roberto Citran, Ivano Marescotti, Marco Messeri, Patrizia Piccinini, Tony Sperandeo.

Third film in what constitutes a trilogy by Carlo Mazzacurati about Italy’s relationship with Eastern Europe, “Vesna Goes Fast” is a rather pallid continuation of its predecessors’ themes that marks a backward step for the director. Written by some of the country’s top scripters, this insubstantial drama about a Czech girl who jumps her tour bus in Italy and then drifts into prostitution is an honest, even intelligent character study, but one that is all atmosphere and no depth. Outside Italy, minor fest action is indicated.

The promising opening has 20-year-old Vesna (Tereza Zajickova) abandoning her tour group in Trieste. Having little money and apparently no survival plan, she kills time in a coffee bar, where a bored businessman (Silvio Orlando) offers her a place to sleep for the night. She responds to his sexual advances by asking for money first, but then balks at the idea and is unable to follow through. But she soon changes her mind.

Hitching to flashy, neon-lit tourist town Rimini, she pragmatically weighs her need for cash and limited means of getting it, and makes her services available to a sleazy john (Ivano Marescotti). Writing home, Vesna invents friends, a job in a store and a seafront apartment for herself, while continuing to turn tricks at the downmarket motel where she rents a room.

That the character retains a certain degree of innocence is perhaps her most interesting aspect she seemingly accepts the unpleasantness of her new career as a means of acquiring relative well-being. Mazzacurati is very much a nonjudgmental filmmaker, and in contrast to Vesna’s underlying innocence, the writing takes risks in showing the almost hypnotic fascination money holds for her. But this approach helps make her less than entirely sympathetic.

The title comes from Vesna’s training as a runner in school back home, and from the speed with which she reshapes her life in Italy. But the real problem is that Vesna goes nowhere. When the scripters appear in doubt as to how to enlarge on her meager inner dimensions, Mazzacurati simply throws in another music break in which the camera cruises around Zajickova while the volume is pumped up on Jan Garbarek’s stridently overstated multiethnic score.

The arrival of sympathetic construction worker Antonio (popular standup comic Antonio Albanese in his first film role), initially as a paying customer and later as savior when Vesna is knifed by a would-be pimp, heralds robust developments in the story that never materialize.

Aided immeasurably by the crisp colors of talented cinematographer Alessandro Pesci’s work, Mazzacurati is a master at sketching the cold mix of allure and alienation the city holds for Vesna, and presumably for other immigrants leaving behind the difficulties of post-Communist Central Europe for a more comfortable existence. But many of the ideas here were more poignantly expressed by Mazzacurati in both “Another Life” and “The Bull.”

An experienced stage actress in the Czech Republic, Zajickova responds well to the camera in her first film, and Albanese gives his unfulfilled, honest nice-guy role some melancholy pangs. Mazzacurati is a fine observer of human relationships, and many of the two leads’ scenes together touch chords that suggest the film could have become something superior with a more ambitious script. Several well-known Italian actors appear briefly, including many cast members from earlier Mazzacurati pics.

Vesna Goes Fast

(VESNA VA VELOCE)

Production: (ITALIAN-FRENCH) A Cecchi Gori Distribuzione release (in Italy) of a Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori presentation of a CGG Tiger Cinematografica (Rome)/IMA Films (Paris) production. Produced by Vittorio and Rita Cecchi Gori. Directed by Carlo Mazzacurati. Screenplay, Umberto Contarello, Mazzacurati, Sandro Petraglia, Claudio Piersanti, Stefano Rulli.

Crew: Camera (Cinecitta color), Alessandro Pesci; editor, Mirco Garrone; music, Jan Garbarek; art direction, Leonardo Scarpa; costume design, Lina Nerli Taviani; sound (Dolby Digital), Bruno Pupparo. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Aug. 28, 1996. Running time: 92 MIN.

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