My Soul Summer — Italian Film Festival 2023

Reviewed by Michele E. Hawkins.

Quiet, studious 17-year-old Anita (Casadilego) is preparing for the entrance examination to study classical piano at a prestigious conservatorium.  She has the summer holidays in which to dedicate her time to practising.  Anita’s ambitious and pushy mother, Ludovia (Anna Ferzetti), decides that the best plan is for Anita to spend the summer with her grandmother, where she’ll be able to practise without distraction.  And so it is that Anita finds herself in the seaside home of her free-spirited grandmother, Daria (Lunetta Savino), with weeks stretching out before her in which to perfect her piano pieces.

But it is during this summer that Anita discovers the unexpected about herself and others.

Casadilego creates an authentic Anita.  She embodies a young woman on the threshold of adult life with all its challenges, desires, disappointments, self-doubt, and final realisation of what it will mean to follow her true path.  And Casadilego’s musicianship is stellar throughout.

Two men are pivotal to Anita’s transformation.  Famous rocker Vins (Tommaso Ragno) guides and mentors Anita through to her freedom as a musician, and her unanticipated friendship with her grandmother’s farm labourer, Vittore (Luka Zunic), leads her to find a true, meaningful connection with a like-minded spirit.

The film’s fine cinematography captures the heat of summer, the temptation of the ocean, and the extremes of architecture in parts of Italy, especially between Anita’s grandmother’s traditional home and the modern brutalist, yet fascinating, abode where Vins is staying.

Added to this is the often moving soundtrack of beautiful songs, past and current, reminding us that the fundamentals of the human experience remain the same, regardless of generation.

My Soul Summer takes a slow pace, allowing the viewer to move gently through the story, to soak up the inner worlds of the characters, and to contemplate what may be or what might have been.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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