Review: Italian Studies (Tribeca 2021)


Vanessa Kirby delivers yet another convincing performance in a clever yet often confusing offering from Tramps director Adam Leon.

Italian Studies follows a woman (Kirby) as she wanders around New York City with little to no memory of who she is or what she is doing. Scene after scene of random encounters and forgetful moments deepen the mystery as few answers are discovered. Leon’s work here is peculiar and challenging, a film that is certainly not for everyone. Kirby is an absolute marvel in her performance, conveying varying degrees of complex emotion frequently without even saying a single word, her expressions telling the story. Without her, however, Italian Studies would fall flat as the string the binds the film together rests on Kirby’s shoulders and not on a narrative link; scenes that are likely intended to represent the amnestic state fail to make much sense. Then again, perhaps that is the point.

Embodying the phrase “destination unknown” is both Kirby’s character and the film itself. Fascinating as the exercise may be, there doesn’t seem to be a clear goal line, rendering planned messaging undelivered. Though artistically beautiful and well composed, Italian Studies could have benefited from a stronger plot that could support the talents of its main star.

Rating: 3/5

Photo from Tribeca

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