Review: ‘La Pivellina’

Story of a 2-year-old girl found by a jobless circus worker living on the outskirts of Rome.

Working like a lean-and-mean verite filmmaking machine, multitaskers and real-life couple Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel (“Babooska”) move from documentary to docu-fiction for their third feature, “La Pivellina.” Story of a 2-year-old girl found by a jobless (and apparently childless) circus worker living on the outskirts of Rome is a humane and quietly moving portrait of life in the margins of society. Pic’s unpretentious charm might give it a shot at minor niche play beyond fests.

When looking for her dog, vermilion-haired Patty (Patrizia Gerardi) finds an abandoned girl (Asia Crippa) instead. When it starts raining, the middle-aged protag takes her to her caravan, where she discovers a note saying the child’s mother “will come back to pick her up.” Using a combo of handheld and more static shots, the film follows Patty, her husband (Walter Saabel) and a 13-year-old neighbor (Tairo Caroli) as they try to integrate the temporary addition into their makeshift family. Pic’s humor and Patty’s no-nonsense personality keep things relatively light, and the absence of a musical score or cutesy melodrama ensures its verite credentials. Tech credits and blowup from 16mm are modestly impressive.

La Pivellina

Austria

Production

A Vento Film production, in association with Innovative Film Austria, Provincia di Bolzano Alto Adige. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Rainer Frimmel. Directed by Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel. Screenplay, Covi.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm-to-35mm), Frimmel; editor, Covi. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 18, 2009. (Also in Berlin Film Festival -- Generation Kplus.) Italian dialogue. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Patrizia Gerardi, Asia Crippa, Tairo Caroli, Walter Saabel.

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