“IN SEARCH OF FELLINI”
Obsessed with Fellini, his films, and his storytelling, and having led a very sheltered life under the watchful eye of her loving but over-protective mother Claire, Lucy strikes out on her own and heads to Italy “In Search of Fellini”. This is a film about cinema and the magic of the medium, its deep history and the joy it conjures in those who truly love the moving picture.
The film opens with a dream-sequence that serves as a statement of purpose and we immediately see that this is a film about cinema and the magic of the medium. This also establishes that this is a coming of age story that uses fantasy.
Lucy (Ksenia Solo) is a 20-year-old who has never really experienced adult life because of her overbearing mother, Claire (Maria Bello). After a voiceover that tells Claire’s back-story and Lucy’s origins, the film quickly moves forward to the early ‘90s, when Claire is diagnosed with advanced and aggressive cancer and Lucy is 20. Claire discusses her ailment with her sister and intends to keep it a secret from Lucy, but Lucy finds out anyhow. It is here that we get the coming of age narrative.
Lucy tries to find a job but has no skills. However, she is interested in film, though, and uses that in an application that leads to an interview with a local porn distributor. A few blocks from the failed interview, she quite literally stumbles upon a Fellini film festival. While Lucy grew up lovingly watching ‘50s-era Hollywood productions so this is her first taste of European art cinema. After seeing Fellini’s “La Strada”, she has an epiphany.
Lucy leaves Ohio to fly to Italy to meet Fellini. This is all set up with increasingly funny phone conversations between Lucy and Fellini’s office manager. Of course, viewers wonder how Lucy, a young woman who has never left where she was born, has the money, travel knowledge and passport required to fly to Italy in the early ‘90s but we go with it since we understand that the film is an homage to cinema.
Director Taron Lexton brings back the nostalgia we felt when we each discovered the master auteur who converted us to become movie lovers. “In Search of Fellini” sits on the edge between being hackneyed and worthwhile while reminding us that cinema is an imaginative and transforming enterprise for both its producers and its consumers.
The story itself is beautiful and resonant.It is filled with characters, locations and visual cues to Fellini’s classics such as “La Dolce Vita,” “8 ½” and “Nights of Cabiria.” Fellini used nostalgia to point out something about ourselves; Lexton uses it to remind us of Fellini’s films.