Art critique

Series review: Bang Bang Baby

– The new Italian Amazon original series is a teenage thriller story whose heroine is a young girl who throws herself into the criminal world out of love for her father

This article is available in English.

It’s about an iconic advert for Big Babol chewing gum, which everyone forty and over will easily remember (where a young cowgirl blows huge gum bubbles and then pops them in quick succession ), that the new original Italian series from Amazon Studios bang bang baby opens first, and the tone is immediately set. Imbued with the pop culture of the 80s, this unique audiovisual creation born from the spirit of Andrea Di Stefano – who wrote the work alongside Valentina Gadi and Sebastiano Melloniand produced it under the artistic direction of Michele Alhaique (who also directed six of the ten episodes, the other four being in turn directed by Marguerite Ferri by Giuseppe Bonito) – is a daring mish-mash of genres – crime, coming-of-age tale and dark comedy – adorned with a visually captivating outer layer and a dark but colorful and dreamlike atmosphere, which oscillates between humor and goosebumps while portraying the point of view of a tormented teenage girl who finds herself delving into the depths of organized crime in exchange for her father’s love.

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Loosely based on a true story (as told in Marisa Merico’s book “L’intoccabile”), bang bang baby revolves around an introverted 16-year-old girl called Alice (Arianna Becheroni) who lives with his working-class mother in a small town in northern Italy. It’s 1986 and television commercials and glossy sit-coms, in which everyone loves each other and everyone is happy, are coming out of Italian screens. Alice, on the other hand, is not happy, because something weighs on her heart: her father Santo (Adrian Giannini) died ten years earlier, murdered before his eyes as they strolled through an amusement park with his mother Gabriella (Lucia Mascino). But one day, a familiar face jumps out at him from a newspaper: it turns out that his father is not dead, as his mother has led him to believe all these years.

Alice wants to understand why the latter hid the truth from her, so she leaves for Milan in search of her paternal grandmother. Grandma Lina (Dora Romano) welcomes him with open arms, as does the rest of his colorful Calabrian family. But behind her affectionate smile hides a ruthless boss of the ‘Ndrangheta who leads Alice to her father Santo, now in prison. The seducer and manipulator Santo is a criminal; he has found himself in hot water and only his newly rediscovered “princess” can help him. “I always wanted a father who looks Happy Days with me,” Alice told him. She will do everything to have her dear parent by her side again. For this reason, they make a deal: “If I do what you tell me, will you become my father again?”. For Alice, this represents a loss of innocence and the start of a fierce criminal upbringing, because love – her voiceover insists – “makes us do things that go against logic and against ourselves. , all in the hope of being loved. But it only takes a moment for the dream to turn into a nightmare”.

This nightmare is seen through the eyes of an 80s teenager, and the film’s pop imagery, made up of music, TV movies, commercials and video games of the time, becomes a way to filter her emotions and to address the shocking situations that present themselves to her. It’s a journey made by “Alice to something other than Wonderland”, explains Alhaique, where the camera moves at varying paces, alternating between panoramic shots, close-ups, wide shots and neon lights, before focusing on faces and breaths. , notably those of the protagonist and her father, but also that of her grandmother Lina, who stands out from all the characters (all of whom are pleasantly multifaceted) by her Jekyll and Hyde nature as a loving southern granny capable of a shocking level of cruelty. The cast also features Antonio Gerardi in the skin of a kind of “idiot of the village”, whose sudden fits of rage can only be appeased by one thing: the songs of George Michael.

bang bang baby is produced by The apartment and Wild sidein co-production with Huge Movies. The first five episodes of the series are available in 240 countries via Prime Video starting today, April 28, though viewers will have to wait until May 19 for the other five installments.

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