Sardinian helmer Salvatore Mereu, who directed the wonderfully observant, regionally flavored “Three-Step Dance” and “Sonetaula,” drops the ball hard in “Bellas mariposas.” Except as maybe an audiovisual cheat sheet for everything that become undone in Italy after years of Berlusconi’s reign — including such fundamentals as morals, good taste and intelligence — this bafflingly mannered story shows how ordinary folk, including young teenage girls, are ruled by their sexual appetites, desire to procrastinate and expectation to receive money without working for it. Beyond local play burn the fires of ancillary hell.Cate (Sara Podda), who frequently addresses the camera, noting the time, comes from a large nest of siblings that includes a prostitute sister (Silvia Coni) with two infants, and a gun-toting, big-dicked brother (Simone Paris). Her father (Luciano Curreli) sleeps with everything that has at least two breasts, and lives off a disability pension, though he’s not disabled. Story follows Cate and her BFF (Maya Mulas) for one day, with activities including swimming, eating ice cream and biting off the member of someone who pays them for fellatio. Assembly’s more refined than the characters.
A Viacolvento, Rai Cinema presentation and production. Produced by Salvatore Mereu, Elisabetta Soddu. Executive producer, Gianluca Arcopinto. Directed, written by Salvatore Mereu, based on the novel by Sergio Atzeni.
Camera (color, HD), Massimo Foletti; editor, Paola Freddi; music, Train to Roots, Balentes, Antonio Castrignano, Rosalba Piras; production designer, Pietro Rais, Marianna Sciveres; costume designer, Alessandro Lai; sound (Dolby Digital), Valentino Gianni, Stefano Sabatini; special effects, Ercole Cosmi; assistant director, Michele Banzato. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 5, 2012. Running time: 104 MIN.
Sara Podda, Maya Mulas, Davide Todde, Luciano Curreli, Maria Loi, Rosalba Piras, Simone Paris, Anna Karina Dyatlyk, Giulia Coni, Carlo Molinari, Michaela Ramazotti, Silvia Coni. (Italian, Sardinian dialogue)