I’ve never been in a cinema so often as since I’m a mother. I’ve seen most cartoons and animation films that have been produced the last five years. From The Princess and the Frog to Despicable Me 2. And I loved them all.
However, our daughter is getting older and we encourage her to broaden her horizon. Watching something different than the latest animation film is just one the ways to introduce her to “real life” and open her eyes to situations other than living in a small village in the Umbrian countryside. We don’t like action, horror, thriller or any other genre in which there’s a high probability of seeing people bleeding or hurting one another. Furthermore, in Italy, all films are dubbed and I prefer hearing the original voices and languages.
Therefore, last month, we opted for Sotto Una Buona Stella (which means literally, “under a good star”), an Italian comedy. At least, that was the official description. It’s the story of a man in his fifties. Divorced when his kids were still little, he has a good job as a broker, and a much younger, nice-looking girlfriend with whom he shares an expensive apartment and a mundane life. He isn’t the handsome, big spender type of man though. He’s short, a bit chubby, balding, and he wears big glasses before eyes that glimmer with a kind of clumsy innocence.
His life takes a very different turn when his ex-wife unexpectedly dies and his grown-up but immature children, who still lived with their mother–as is normal in Italy–, come to live in his apartment. His son dreams of becoming a guitar-playing singer; his daughter, a poet and a single mother of a less than two-year old girl, makes very little money with some translating work. Both children treat their father with disdain, full of bitterness, still mad at him for abandoning his family while they were only toddlers. On top of that, he loses his job because his employer is arrested for fraud. His beautiful girlfriend, unable to cope with the changed situation, leaves him.
Now, where’s the fun? The situation is rather tragic, I would say. Luckily, there’s a neighbor who breaks into the story and takes care of the comic touch. But overall, the tone of the film remains a bit sad. It gives an idea of how life is for Italian young people. One phrase, said by the daughter, still keeps coming back in my mind. “In this country, we [young people] don’t exist. We’re ghosts. This isn’t a country for young people.” At the end of the film, both young adults emigrate to the UK.
Obviously, the film reveals something about the economical situation in Italy, with a youth unemployment rate of more than 42% (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/italy/youth-unemployment-rate), in spite of the fact that many of them have a university degree. Numerous young academics, indeed, “flee” abroad to find work; they call this phenomenon la fuga dei cervelli, the brain flight or “brain drain.”
Moreover, the young ones have no hope, no spiritual anchor. They loath the religious tradition of their parents. At the same time, they long to give a sense to their life, to find a scope in what they’re doing, to see a ray of hope for their future. Many of them seek to still their spiritual thirst in New Age activities; they “create” their own religion. (In fact, the film title Sotto Una Buona Stella refers to the name of the song that the son wrote for his dead mother, who he now sees as a star in heaven.) However, as their self-built spirituality lacks the fundamentals of truth, they keep floating aimlessly through life.
Through the film, our daughter caught a glimpse of the state of mind–and spirit–of the generation that walks ahead of her, here in Italy. We can only hope that she won’t follow them, but, instead, goes where Jesus will lead her.
It is our heart-felt prayer that countless young people in Italy will come to know the only One who can give them a hope and a future, who has a purpose for each of them, and in whom they will find abundant life.
And, o yeah, at the end of the film, after his kids left for the UK, the father and the neighbor get together. But does the film really have a happy ending?