Upcoming Roman director Elisa Amoruso’s semi-autobiographical fiction debut chronicles a young girl’s plight as she strives to make sense of her place in the world under the not-so-watchful eyes of her dysfunctional parents.
It’s 1990 and 13-year-old Nina’s (Emma Fasano) incredibly messy family has been forced to move from the centre of Rome to its outskirts. The reason for which sits at the feet of her father Enzo (Giampaolo Morelli) who spirits away whatever finances the couple has. While he and wife Laura (Micaela Ramazzotti) are in a constant state of conflict, Nina keeps an eye out to her younger brother, Lorenzo (Federico Ielapi). Both starting at a new school, Nina’s not entirely in a hurry to make new friends.
Her first encounter is with quarrelsome Sirley (Manon Bresch), who also lives in the same apartment complex. Both girls are chalk and cheese. Sirley is quick to capitalise on Nina’s vulnerability; when cigarette smoke is detected in the classroom, she tosses the cigarettes into Nina’s bag to be discovered by the teacher. This sets up a confrontation in the schoolground where fur will fly, culminating in another visit to the principal’s office.
Truth be told, Sirley is as vulnerable and lonely as Nina. Derided by other classmates for her appearance and fielding rumours that she’s adopted, her antagonism towards Nina dissipates when they both realise they have more in common than not.
As the young girls’ relationship deepens, Nina’s parents’ bickering continues on unabated. After Enzo is escorted home one evening in a LSD-infused stupor, Laura packs off the kids – including Sirley – and heads to the beach, thereby kickstarting the deep connection between Nina and Sirley.
Sirley is a tight, yet light of touch, coming of age film that conveys the girls’ moments on screen with quiet affection. It has been branded a comedy which is debatable. Manon Bresch gives a standout performance, with Emma Fasano making her feature debut.
Sirley has its Australian premiere at the 2021 Italian Film Festival at participating Palace Cinemas and is now showing. Check your local guides for screening times.
Duration: 94 mins
Language: Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Elisa Amoruso
Written by Elisa Amoruso, Eleonora Cimpanelli, Paola Randi
Stars Micaela Ramazzotti, Giampaolo Morelli, Emma Fasano, Federico Ielapi, Manon Bresch