Sincere, if not much more politically sophisticated than a Benetton ad, “Now or Never” is one of several recent films to tussle with the significance of events in Genoa during the G8 summit in July 2001, when anti-globalization protester Carlo Giuliani was killed and many others subjected to police brutality. Pic’s strongest suits are its handsome cast, youthful enthusiasm and accessible storytelling from the “I would never be the same after that fateful summer” school of drama. Theatrical prospects are strongest in West Europe, although the pic could click Stateside in university towns and cities such as Seattle or San Francisco.
Story is told through the eyes of David (Jacopo Bonvicini), a shy physics student at Pisa’s Normale U., who one day follows Viola (Violante Placido), who he’s secretly fancied for years, into a political group’s meeting.
Before long he’s helping the collective, newly named Mompracem, to draft press releases and fix up a youth center where everyone lives in a jumble of sleeping bags among the Christmas lights and graffiti-decorated walls. David becomes progressively more committed to the group, especially since it’s the only way he can see Viola, who is dating Mompracem’s de facto leader, Luca (Edoardo Gabbriellini).
Middle act divides its attention between politics and the love triangle among David, Viola and Luca. David briefly beds fellow protester Vanna (Camilla Filippi), but Viola is as drawn to him as he is to her. David’s loyalties are further divided when his new friends don’t get along with his cynical school buddy Doveri (Elio Germano) and when the protest in Genoa falls on the day David must take a crucial exam.
Climactic protest sequence, with graphic scenes of police beating the protesters, is chilling and unflinchingly handled, made all the more effective by sticking to real-life accounts of what went on in Bolzaneto, the detention facility where the most of the protesters were held after arrest.
Film’s main flaws are a weak last act, plus the fact that David seems more committed to getting laid than to changing the world. Ultimately, pic is much more about coming of age than it is about specific political issues. Script also boasts a very Italian sense of humor, and perfs are generally strong, especially from supports Gabbriellini and Germano.
A well-chosen pop-music soundtrack jollies along the youth-movie atmosphere. Rest of tech credits are fine but not outstanding, with a TV-movie blandness apart from the more expressionistic Bolzaneto sequence.