Isotta Nicoletta Magalotti Luisa Rosa Di Brigida Caterina Teresa Saponangelo Alexandros Dinitris Verykios Isotta’s Father Luigi Diberti Isotta’s Mother Mariacristina Gentile Sandpo Arturo Paglia Anna Fabrizia Saeehi
A fat-girl story that’s a little too thin, “Isotta” strives via an airy mix of fantasy and reality to endow its weight-challenged protagonist with dignity and grace, but its efforts are under-nourished. This microbudget indie from Naples lacks the authorial authority to place newcomer Maurizio Fiume in the ranks of the Neapolitan new wave alongside directors Mario Martone and Pappi Corsicato. But the bittersweet comedy’s roughedged charms could secure a niche in fests showcasing fledgling filmmakers.
A prologue introduces the title character as an underweight baby soon being overfed by her mother (co-scripter Mariacristina Gentile), and then as a chubby, daydreaming schoolgirl. At 30, the now quite rotund, diabetic Isotta (Nicoletta Magalotti) continues to retreat from the real world. She leaves behind her depressing factory job and the low-rent industrial quarter of Naples where she lives, and she floats, dressed in white, in a dreamworld where her hefty girth and weakness for caloriefests present no problem.
Her family situation is burdened by the gambling habit of her boneidle father (Luigi Diberti). For company, she fraternizes with factory chums Luisa (Rosa Di Brigida), an older woman with a bad marriage behind her, and man-crazy Caterina (Teresa Saponangelo).
Reality takes hold with the prospect of love. A suave Greek traveling merchant (Dimitri Verykios) strikes up a friendship with Isotta, which she mistakenly spins into romance. Her hope sink with a thud when he hooks up with Luisa instead, leaving her to drift back into fantasyland.
While neophyte helmer Fiume’s light touch makes for engaging enough viewing, the comedy clicks too infrequently and the film is never quite as quirky as it presumes to be. Stylistic embellishments like end-of-scene wipes and watery other-worldly realms fail to cover for what seems like a tenuous hold on the material and an inability to fully define the characters. Isotta, especially, is given too little depth by her pedestrian voiceovers or by singer-actress Magalotti’s affable but unresourceful performance.
Lenser Pasquale Mari makes a colorful, grungy landscape of the battered-looking Neapolitan locations, and the hip score by Naples band Avion Travel supplies a good share of buoyancy and vitality.