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See You

One of a series of features made for pubcaster RAI in which young Italian filmmakers explore their regional roots, Gianni Zanasi's "See You" chronicles the brief escape of an adolescent brother and sister from their small-town home in Emilia Romagna to the bright lights of Bologna. Self-consciously cute and lacking the spontaneity of the director's 1995 debut, "In the Thick of It," which played in the Directors Fortnight at Cannes, this agreeable but slight teen comedy-drama was an incongruous choice to represent Italy in the Venice fest competition and will look more at home as youth programming on Euro webs.

One of a series of features made for pubcaster RAI in which young Italian filmmakers explore their regional roots, Gianni Zanasi’s “See You” chronicles the brief escape of an adolescent brother and sister from their small-town home in Emilia Romagna to the bright lights of Bologna. Self-consciously cute and lacking the spontaneity of the director’s 1995 debut, “In the Thick of It,” which played in the Directors Fortnight at Cannes, this agreeable but slight teen comedy-drama was an incongruous choice to represent Italy in the Venice fest competition and will look more at home as youth programming on Euro webs.

Opening with a small group of teen-age kids killing time by pontificating about trivia, the film homes in on 15-year-old Andrea (Andrea Corneti). His rich fantasy life allows him to embroider an innocent friendship with a girl into a full-blown relationship and to plan on taking off with her to visit a motor show in nearby Bologna. But when she fails to turn up at the bus station, Andrea instead tags along with his older, wiser sister Stefania (Stefania Rivi), who was planning on a night of amorous R&R with her b.f. Angelo (Wilson Saba).

At precisely the point where it should kick into road-movie gear, the film stalls slightly during the siblings’ protracted negotiations at the bus station. Once the action shifts to Bologna, plausibility is gradually kissed good-bye as Andrea passes himself off as the son of a Formula 1 driver and charms a group of mechanics at the auto-show into taking Stefania, Angelo and him out for a slap-up meal.

The drawn-out restaurant scene again brings the momentum to a halt until Stefania accompanies Angelo home and agonizes about going to bed with him. Andrea, in the meantime, attempts to sabotage their assignation as he and the drunken mechanics run wild in the seemingly deserted city.

What makes “See You” relatively refreshing by comparison with far too many Italian films on similar subjects is that these kids are not 20th century casualties or traumatized victims of brutal environments. They merely are everyday teenagers from normal homes in dull, normal towns, whose restlessness has no real focus.

However, while “In the Thick of It” conveyed both the up and down sides of adolescent life in the ‘burbs in an unforced, Truffaut-influenced style, Zanasi’s sophomore feature strives too hard to be charming and sweet.

Wrestling with overscripted dialogue, the non-pro cast doesn’t always manage to seem entirely natural or unaware of the camera, but the three leads are not without appeal. Corneti’s relentless verbosity and Saba’s silly cosmicspeak are amusing, and Rivi establishes a neat balance of impatience and indulgence with her character’s fanciful brother.

While still working within a fairly modest budget, Zanasi has put together a considerably more polished production than his rough-hewn, microbudget debut.

See You

(COMEDY-DRAMA -- ITALIAN)

Production: An Istituto Luce release (in Italy) of a Tangram Film/Istituto Luce/RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana production. (International sales: RAI Trade, Rome.) Produced by Roberto and Matteo Levi. Directed, written by Gianni Zanasi.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Giulio Pietromarchi; editor, Rita Rognoni; music, Giuliano Taviani; art directors, Carlo Rescigno, Lorella Zocca; costume designer, Zocca; sound (Dolby), Marco Tidu; assistant director, Dino Abbrescia. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 7, 1999. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: With: Stefania Rivi, Andrea Corneti, Wilson Saba, Paolo Sassanelli, Mimmo Mancini, Lorenzo Viaconzi, Umberto Franchini, Cordelio Sacco, Cesare Bocci, Nicola Degli Esposti, Aurora Cretaro.

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