A bored Italo high-school kid with a gift for music finds himself stuck between two divorcing teachers in “School Is Over.” Scribe-helmer Valerio Jalongo’s docu background comes through in the gritty tone and conspicuous absence of “Dead Poets Society”-type uplift, and the naturalistic acting is convincing. But the film is let down by a screenplay that’s a Cminus at best, lacking structural or thematic glue strong enough to keep the entire enterprise together (pic’s division into chapters seems arbitrary). Local opening was weak, though some fests will want to take note.
“Respiro — Grazia’s Island” duo Valeria Golino and Vincenzo Amato here play a divorcing couple, both weary teachers at a difficult school described as “a parking space for future failures.” Both focus their attention on tough-nut-to-crack student Alex (impressively listless newcomer Fulvio Forti) to escape their own problems. Story remains unpredictable, but rather than being refreshing, this undermines anything coherent the film might have to say about Italy’s education system or contempo mores, while details are not plentiful enough for a straightforward three-way character study. Tech credits are appropriately rough, Italo emo songs on the soundtrack a plus.