A wired performance by newcomer Giulio Beranek and a feel for locale keep Alessandro Di Robilant’s “Little Sea” afloat when unconvincing plot elements threaten to drench the narrative. Beranek plays a working-class teen in a soulless section of the southern Italian city of Taranto, hemmed in by gangsters and a lack of opportunities. Despite some stock situations, the characters are mostly convincing and Di Robilant accurately captures the milieu as a cul-de-sac of hopelessness. Though the film’s 50-print release at home has largely remained under the radar, small fests may express more interest.
Tiziano (Beranek) is up to his neck in shady business but tight with his mom, Maria (Anna Ferruzzo); he also shows genuine intellectual and artistic promise. His teacher (Valentina Carnelutti) has him read Joseph Conrad, but other than mom and his g.f., Stella (Selenia Orzella), few see the potential lurking underneath Tiziano’s swagger. However, stealing from vicious local kingpin Tonio (Michele Riondino) proves a mistake, and time in the slammer, where he’s predictably a target, fails to put him on the right track. Pic’s scene construction is sometimes faulty but tech creds are all solid.