What would I change about La Pazza Gioia? Absolutely nothing.
In Paolo Virzì “Thelma and Louise” all’Italiana, two of Italy’s finest actresses show off what they know how to do best, but coming from two completely different directions.
In La Pazza Gioia (Like Crazy), Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, who tends to play over-wound and unstable women so well that we wonder if she really is one, plays the institutionalized Beatrice; the director’s wife, Micaela Ramazzotti plays her roommate Donatella.
Valeria sticks with the personification we expect from her but has never done it with this amount of explosive authority. The character of “Beatrice” is the product of everyone working on the movie doing his or her job really well. Virzì and fellow scriptwriter (director) Francesca Archibugi nail the dialogue in a way that tops what either of these accomplished screenwriters have achieved to date. Director of photography Vladan Radovic captures Beatrice’s true essense, the delicate flower /emotional trainwreck that never stops moving, never stops buzzing, and couldn’t if she wanted to (and hence, the mental institution that is her home.)
Ramazzotti, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of type-cast as the deeply depressed, tattooed and anorexic Donatella and any idea that she’s riding her husband’s coat tails has been long disproved. Her performance is award-winningly intense; she’s dug down so deep into herself to achieve this level of authentic bleakness that I can imagine it was impossible to completely crawl back out at the end of the work day.
To be clear, this is not a Thelma and Louise remake. The two mental hospital roommates break out and hit the road so yes, it’s #roadtripmovie and it’s #buddymovie and it’s #chickflick, but it’s so much more. Again, everyone who had something to do with this movie did a really good job, and the whole is much greater than sum of its parts. What a team! With Virzì’s brother Carlo Virzì creating the music for the film in the way that has changed Italian movie soundtracks (thank God) forever, and cinematography from the guy I consider to be the best in the business, Vladan Radovic, I find myself in a position that I’m never in: unable to find fault with a movie.