Can a movie about a nine-year-old boy and his dead pretend friend tell a story that grownups could identify with? It can and it does in Ivan Cotroneo’s Kryptonite Nella Borsa (Kryptonite in the purse).
Set in Napoli in the ’70s, it’s a kind of Italian “Wonder Years” for little Peppino, just a little less warm and fuzzy. His Dad is cheating on his Mom, his Mom has taken to her bed with depression, his uncle and aunt are babysittlng by getting him high at hippie parties, and his older cousin dies. Oh, and all the kids at school hate him. What a little guy like Peppino needs in a situation like this is a Super Hero.
He’s got one – cousin Gennaro, a few screws loose and has always believed himself to be Superman, (Italian Superman, rather); when he dies he continues to appear to Peppino in times of need. La Kryptonite Nella Borsa is a comedy that’s a little melancholy and a little kitschy, but very fresh and entertaining. It does a pretty good job of capturing the era with all the right clothes and a fun soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and an Italian language cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Planet Funk.
Movies like these always make me stop to ponder the fundamental differences between love in American movies and in Italian movies; for instance, Americans want to punish cheating bastards but Italians are more forgiving. I’m programmed to want revenge for the betrayed party, but I’m starting to see the beauty in love conquering all.
As the voiceover at the beginning of the movie says, “Questa è una storia che parla di un supereroe, di una famiglia e di un bambino con gli occhiali, ma non è una storia sull’infanzia. E’ una storia sull’amore”. - This is a story about a Super Hero, a family, and a child with glasses, but it’s not a children’s story. It’s a story about love.
If you’re planning to enter the David di Donatello Movie Awards Contest, you’ll want to get a look at Kryptonite Nella Borsa for its two nominations: Valeria Golino for best actress and Cristiana Capotondi for best supporting actress. Both deliver fine performances, particularly Golino, and I hadn’t guessed that this movie could help either of them get an award, but I may have been wrong.
Kryptonite Nella Borsa (2011)
With English Subtitles
Director: Ivan Cotroneo
Writers: Ivan Cotroneo (story), Monica Rametta
Stars: Valeria Golino, Cristiana Capotondi and Luca Zingaretti