Cannes Film Review: ‘Fiore’

Italian prison drama combines Dardennes-style social realism with a dewy romance story.

Daphne Scoccia, Josciua Algeri, Laura Vasiliu, Valerio Mastandrea, Klea Marku, Valerio Mastandrea, Francesca Riso, Gessica Giulianielli, Aniello Arena.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5721654/

“Fiore,” the story of a teenager discovering herself and finding love at a juvenile detention center in Italy, combines Dardennes-style social realism with a tale of cross-prison infatuation so dewy you half-expect the film to end with a title card comparing the institution’s rates of recidivism and romance. Very smoothly directed by Claudio Giovannesi (“Alì Blue Eyes”), making his third feature, the movie provides a magnetic showcase for newcomer Daphne Scoccia (who appears in every scene), even as the narrative burrows away, like Clint Eastwood in “Escape From Alcatraz,” at the picture’s overall credulity. What starts as a hard-hitting commentary on how society can help people get back on their feet sometimes veers perilously close to “Arancione Is the New Black.” Even so, the same crowd-pleasing qualities that undercut the narrative may help to sell the film more widely. Release in Rome and Milan begins May 25.

Already assigned to a group home that she compares to jail, Daphne (Scoccia) spends her days participating in a small-time criminal outfit, mugging subway passengers for their cellphones. When she’s caught after a robbery, she is forced to adapt to a juvenile prison — something she manages without much trouble, since life in this slammer doesn’t seem too harsh. Workshops teach Daphne how to sew and cut hair. Contraband like lipstick flows relatively freely, although Daphne struggles to contact her father (Valerio Mastandrea) for clothing and an MP3 player. When she’s assigned a new cellmate (Klea Marku), the two immediately bond over their tattoos. This may be the warmest depiction of European social services since last year’s Cannes opener, “Standing Tall.”

But the key figure in Daphne’s new life is undoubtedly Josh (Josciua Algeri), who lives on the (separate) men’s side of the prison and mopes about his outside girlfriend’s lack of fidelity. Separated by fences and bars, the two steal conversations and eventually affections, and occasionally even the prison staff seems inclined to roll its collective eyes at the local Romeo and Juliet. The key drama comes from whether the two can commit to each other — not only are they separated most of the time, but Josh still pines for his ex — and also whether they can stand the wait.

To be fair, it’s possible that puppyish teenage romances of this sort are common in such circumstances. Per the press notes, the filmmakers spent four months researching at the Istituto Penale per i Minori in Rome, and many of the film’s cast members were previously imprisoned or are on probation. Some Steadicam work adds energy to the proceedings even as it renders the scenario incongruously glamorous. Scoccia, tasked with playing a character whose behavior is perhaps surprising even to herself, is the film’s strongest element.

Another plot thread concerns Daphne’s opportunity to live with her father, who has just finished doing time, and his girlfriend (Laura Vasiliu, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”), on probationary custody, a commitment her dad is not sure he can take on. But sometimes it’s hard to see why Daphne would want to leave. Do real juvenile detention centers have coed dances and fashion walkoffs? Maybe, but it’s hard to shake the sense that “Fiore” glosses over complexities — economic, legal, racial, institutional — in the name of uplift.

Cannes Film Review: 'Fiore'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 17, 2016. Running time: 109 MIN.

Production: (Italy) A Rita Rognoni and Rai Cinema presentation of a Pupkin and IBC Movie with Rai Cinema production. (International sales: Rai Com, Rome.) Produced by Rita Rognoni, Beppe Caschetto. Executive producer, Francesco Tató.

Crew: Directed by Claudio Giovannesi. Screenplay, Giovannesi, Filippo Gravino, Antonella Lattanzi; story, Giovannesi, Gravino. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Daniele Ciprí; editor, Giuseppe Trepiccione; music, Giovannesi, Andrea Moscianese; production designer, Daniele Frabetti; costume designer, Olivia Bellini; sound, Angelo Bonanni; associate producers, Valerio Mastandrea, Gianni Zanasi; casting, Chiara Polizzi.

With: Daphne Scoccia, Josciua Algeri, Laura Vasiliu, Valerio Mastandrea, Klea Marku, Valerio Mastandrea, Francesca Riso, Gessica Giulianielli, Aniello Arena.

More Film

  • Roman Polanski extradition

    Academy Responds to Roman Polanski: 'Procedures Were Fair and Reasonable'

    UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to a lawsuit from director Roman Polanski that claimed he was unfairly expelled from the industry organizaton. “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate,” a spokesperson said. Polanski is suing the Academy [...]

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]


    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • 'Changing the Game' Documentary

    Watch the First Trailer for Trans Documentary 'Changing the Game' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another hurdle for trans rights could quite literally be the track and field hurdle. Transgender student athletes are put in the spotlight in the forthcoming documentary “Changing the Game,” set to premiere at 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Variety has the world premiere of the doc’s first teaser trailer, which gives an in-depth look into the [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Box Office

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Conjures $2.8 Million on Thursday Night

    “The Curse of La Llorona,” the latest entry in Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Conjuring” universe, conjured $2.75 million from Thursday preview showings, while “Breakthrough,” a faith-based offering from Fox-Disney, brought in $1.5 million from its second day of screenings. “La Llorona’s” haul tops recent horror counterparts “Pet Sematary” and “Escape Room,” which each took [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content