It was Italy’s entry to the Academy Awards in 2011 for best foreign language film and it didn’t have a prayer, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. From director Paolo Virzì ( Caterina in the Big City ), La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing) is the story of moody Bruno (Valerio Mastandrea), a resentful man who has one last chance to forgive his dying mother, Anna, for being the kind of woman who put men ahead of her children.
Young Anna is played by Micaela Ramazzotti and older Anna played by Stefania Sandrelli so The First Beautiful Thing is worth seeing for the strong performances, if nothing else. To be honest, I didn’t dislike it nearly as much until they announced it was Italy’s submission to the Oscars. It’s not that it’s bad, but it wasn’t nearly good enough too have competed with the best the world has to offer. It’s too sentimental and too predictable; it’s entertaining, but not in an award-winning way.
Not to say it didn’t win any – awards, that is – it won and was nominated for a boatload of them, including Nastro d’argentos for Virzì and for Ramazzotti (who are husband and wife, by the way, in real life).