Declan Dowling
29th Jan 2022

EUROPA! EUROPA! is a brand new European Film Festival screening a selection of exciting titles across Australia for 3 weeks. The festival incorporates the work of over 50 countries and a diverse range of films from a diverse continent of film makers. It has been my pleasure to review some of the upcoming films prior to their hitting Australian Screens in February.

Io Sto Bene [I’m Fine] is a 2020 film by Luxembourgish film maker Donato Rotunno and produced by his company Tarantula Luxembourg in tandem with Maxma Film. Io Sto Bene has been selected as the Luxembourgian entry for ‘Best International Feature Film’ at the 94th Academy Awards (27 March, 2022).

The film, set in Luxembourg, follows the converging lives of Antonio Spinelli (Renato Carpentieri) an italian born now retired owner of a successful paint company, and Leo (Sara Serraiocco), a young woman who has moved to Luxembourg attempting to make her way in the world as a VJ (a DJ specializing in original Audio Visual presentations). The film jumps back and forth from the present to Antonio in his youth (Alessio Lapice), having just moved to Luxembourg with his cousins in an attempt to make his way in the world.

This is a spectrum film if ever I have seen one (a spectrum film, play or story of course being one which attempts to cover the vast highs and lows that make up the human experience i.e. Love and Information, War and Peace, etc.). The film is driven by comparative elements of the characters and their experiences despite their differences in context. Showing indeed how life runs through us all connecting and uniting us, especially in universally experienced difficulties. It presents beginnings and endings, age and youth and their respective follies, the struggle to survive and grow as human beings and how we love and relate to each other. We may all feel separate and different but once we identify how we are united in our struggles and experiences they become easier to deal with.

The simply joyous thing about this film are the performances from Sara Serraiocco as Leo and Renato Carpentieri as Antonio. Carpentieri provokes interest and truth in his performance which, like an unraveling onion, reveals its layered sophistication the more we explore how Antonio's present is influenced by his past. Serraiocco’s presentation of youth is perfectly complementary and contrasting; she, like Antonio in his youth, opts to attempt to change the world around her because it seems easier than finding her place in it as it stands. She conveys this and all her motivations in earnest, forming an identification and symbiotic relationship with the audience; not feeding off of but giving into each other. The vulnerability shared in the relationship between the two as the film goes on becomes their ultimate strength. The evolution of this pair as they carry us through the bulk of the film is subtle, nuanced and rewarding on every level.

This film however doesn't tell its story guided and influenced by the remarkable performances within it, but rather works in harmony with them creating a unity between all elements of the film and performance. Truly the mark of a skilled director and storyteller in Donato Rotunno. Visually the film’s use of colour and light is incredibly controlled, but not stylized in the same way as a film by Dario Argento may be. It’s visual elements are effortlessly and yet carefully constructed to create visual diversity with a uniting stylistic thread running through it bringing the piece together. The sound design and soundtrack of the film perfectly frame the tone, mood and pace of the story as well as in some instances assisting thematic elements of the film, particularly in the choice of songs lyrically which make up the sets of Leo’s DJing (or VJing).

This film’s presentation of life, sentimentality, growth, strong performances and rewarding evolution and presentation of ideas and relationships means it should certainly make it onto your list of must-sees for this year's EUROPA! EUROPA! Film Festival.

Tickets to Io Sto Bene and further information about EUROPA! EUROPA! can be found here >>