(Genova, 2008) Prolific, restless director Michael Winterbottom continues a breathless pace as a filmmaker, with activist documentary “The Shock Doctrine” (also this week at Siskel) and ghost story “Summer in Genoa” followed by his bold, murderous Jim Thompson adaptation, “The Killer Inside Me,” reviled in moralistic terms by viewers at Sundance and Berlin, arriving this summer. “Shock Doctrine” has played on video-on-demand in the U.S., but “Summer in Genoa” remains unreleased. Colin Firth is an English professor and newly widowed father of two daughters, 16-year-old Kelly (Willa Holland) who’s discovering boys on the beach, and 10-year-old Mary (Perla Haney-Jardine), who sees her dead mother (Hope Davis). As he mourns, an old friend (Catherine Keener) offers him a position in Genova. Time passes leisurely, quietly. Written by Winterbottom and Laurence Coriat (“Wonderland”), “Summer in Genoa” makes for an interesting mix: working with his young cinematographer Marcel Zyskind (“Mister Lonely”), Winterbottom captures the air of a 1950s Americans-abroad melodrama with dashes of Val Lewton’s suggestive horror and conscious nods to the haunted Venice of Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now.” Winterbottom’s “Wonderland” is terrific at capturing the sense of life in the modern city, and there are rich moments glancingly observed between his displaced characters in labyrinthine Genova; off-kilter editing rhythms enhance the brooding mood of largely naturalistic proceedings. The score by Melissa Parmenter, mostly strings, is a lovely accent. (A Ryanair flight direct from Chicago to Genova is an amusing fancy.) 94m. DigiBeta video. (Ray Pride)
“Summer In Genoa” plays at Siskel May 21-25 and 27. Line producer Phillip Koch and associate producer Sally Marschall will appear Friday and on Saturday at 8:30pm. A trailer is embedded below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.