Monday, December 19, 2011

Cosmonaut (Cosmonauta)

Portobello Pictures

"A crowd pleasing coming-of-ager”

“I’m a Communist!” declares Luciana at age 9.

It’s now 1963 and 15 year old Luciana has been obsessed with Russian space missions since she was a little girl, a passion passed on by her older, oddball brother Arturo. She is now a committed member of the local Italian Federation of Young Communists and is nursing a hopeless crush on the handsome leader of the group, also her friend’s boyfriend. Susanna Nicchiarelli’s first feature follows feisty Luciana trying to get the boys in her group to take her ideas seriously as she suffers through the initial blast off and return to Earth of first love.

A teenage girl growing up in the Sixties finds an unusual way to impress a boy and show up her older brother in this bittersweet coming-of-age debut feature from director Susanna Nicchiarelli, which was selected for the "New Trends in Italian Cinema" section at the 2009 Venice Film Festival.

Luciana (Miriana Raschilla) was just a baby when her father died, but stories of his devotion to the Italian Communist party have had a strong impact on her and her older brother Arturo (Pietro del Giudice). They follow the progress of the space program together, urging on the Soviet cosmonauts. When Arturo declares his ambition to someday become a cosmonaut, Luciana starts her own personal space race, announcing that she intends to beat her brother into outer space and become the first woman in orbit. But it's hard to say how much of this is a genuine ambition, and how much is intended to impress Vittorio (Michelangelo Ciminale), the handsome leader of the Young Communists.

Sergio Rubini is terrific as Luciana's stern stepfather and Nicchiarelli, who co-stars as a party woman who inspires Luciana, skilfully evokes the period, contrasting historical events with the trials of adolescence, interspersing fascinating footage of the early Soviet space missions with newly recorded contemporary versions of pop songs from the period.

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