Edoardo Winspeare’s endless melodrama Quiet Bliss is best avoided by audience members with brains and limited lifespans. Consisting entirely of the tiresome squabbles of four women, it is neither empowering nor original.
Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Director: Edoardo Winspeare
Screenplay: Anna Boccadamo, Alessandro Valenti, and Edoardo Winspeare.
Runtime: 127 minutes.
Cast: Celeste Casciaro, Laura Licchetta, Anna Boccadamo, and Barbara De Matteis.
Trailer: So tiresome.
Plot: Losing everything in a bankruptcy, three generations of women from the same family move to the countryside and attempt to make a living off the land. Led by elder sister Adele, life gets complicated as she pursues a relationship with an old school friend, her daughter gets pregnant, her mother gets married, her sister misses an audition for a part, and on, and on, and on…
Festival Goers? Miss it.
Viewed as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival.
Review: Quiet Bliss is a tired old melodrama, aimed squarely at women as an issues film in the vein of Eat, Pray, Love and other big on marketing, slight on substance time-wasters. At over two hours long the film overstays its welcome and then some; like that distant friend who arrives for a week and crashes on your couch for three months. Filled to the brim with weddings, pregnancies, romantic strolls in vineyards, it trades on the worst sort of gendered stereotypes in the hope that its probably elderly, probably female audience will indentify and be entertained. I earnestly hope for the future of feminism and the human race in general that women don’t; as the female characters in Quiet Bliss show just enough independence and self determination to get themselves into bigger spots of trouble before they are inevitably rescued by a man (which happens numerous times during the film). In between those circumstances, they fight among each other with a demented venom and insistence in many shrill scenes of name calling and recrimination throwing.
The film follows elder sister Adele, who runs a textiles factory that supports the entire family. When the business goes bankrupt, due to cheap competition from China, the entire family must sell up and move to the small plot of land the family still manages to own within the countryside. What follows are romanticised but not particularly competent shots of country living (one egregious scene has unintentional, blinding blue lens flare throughout), as the women manage to trade vegetables for everything they need – with one local remarking ‘who’s got cash anymore?’ With four women living in close proximity, the melodrama is quick to ensue – with the razor-tongued Adele hurling every insult and criticism she can think of at the others. This is, I suppose, meant to establish her as the tough, responsible one that does all of the heavy lifting within the family – but honestly, you’ll just despise her by the close of the film, so constant and relentlessly vile is her cutting down of her family members. A scene where she pawns the last of the family’s precious heirlooms to buy dinner and a nice dress for herself, because she deserves it, will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for most audience members. Celeste Casciaro’s performance is convincing, but unhelped by the script or direction she is unable to find any light or redeeming qualities within her character. Ditto daughter Ina (Laura Licchetta) and sister Salvatrice (Anna Boccadamo).
Let’s just skip to the end, a hope I had dashed by this endless film. The closing scene of the film says it all, as daughter Ina comes home from the hospital pregnant and battered by the father of her child, who was only interested in sex. Gathered into her mothers arms, all four women congregate on their bed to group-hug-cry it out, while the grandmother hums a lullabies and the camera slowly pans out. Lazy, clichéd, so melodramatic it’s not even clever enough to be manipulative. Like its character Adele, Quiet Bliss has no redeeming features.
Rating: One star.