The influence of Mike Leigh’s detailed evocations of dysfunctional family life is apparent in early scenes of “Cecilia,” feature debut by writer-director Antonio Morabito. But where Leigh and his players explore nuances of family behavior, Morabito steers his film into absurdism. Based on helmer’s 1999 short of the same name, low budget pic is unlikely to travel far but could interest fests showcasing new Italian talent. Local biz has been low key.
Cecilia (Anna Terzano) is a troubled young woman whose argumentative family pushes her toward a breakdown. Suffocating under their neuroses, she leaves one morning and doesn’t come back. As word spreads, friends and extended family converge on the house – supposedly to offer solace but really to get at the free food. Finally, mom (Pamela Villoresi) becomes hysterical and dad (Gianni Grima) starts dictatorially micromanaging the search efforts, until everything turns to farce. Chapter headings (“Crisis,” “Chaos,” etc.) reveal the gradual disintegration of reality until a battle royal demolishes the house. Tech credits are inconsistent, with dark lighting and tinny sound in interiors; however, Morabito orchestrates on-screen action in different visual planes with an accomplished eye.