Caterina in the Big City (2003) Poster

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Wonderful film, a great Italian bittersweet comedy!
canulendmeafewbux19 December 2004
One of the best movie I've seen recently. An exciting coming of age, an exhilarating comedy, a deep and painful portrait of our society at the present moment."Caterina Va in Città" has outrageously funny scenes — starting with Giancarlo's biting farewell to his despised small-town students. But it's a very dark sense of humor. The film is really about personalities, especially his. Imagine a standard coming-of- age movie about a smart, unusual kid learning that it's okay to be an individual, different from the rest. Giancarlo is that kid, only he's 40-something and he hasn't had that final scene where everything turns out okay. Angry that others have gotten all the breaks in life, he righteously criticizes the establishment, big money, the old boys' network, and yet envies them at the same time. Back in Rome, he has a chance to mingle with exactly the class of people he inwardly resents, and every chance he gets to make a mark among them turns to embarrassment.

Played with great flair by Sergio Castellitto (the insouciant chef from "Mostly Martha"), Giancarlo is an enormously sympathetic but uncomfortable character, and his contradictions have a ripple effect on everyone in his orbit. His wife Agata (Margherita Buy) lives in a shell rather than get in the way of her grandiose husband. Caterina (Alice Teghil) is thrust uneasily into a social scene she's thoroughly unprepared for, made even more out of place by her dad's instructions. She doesn't seem to have inherited his low self-esteem, but this new life flies way over her head most of the time. It's a complex portrait of a family's struggle, set amid the tumult of big-city society and class consciousness. "Caterina" is a very rewarding movie.
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Peer pressure in the big city
jotix1007 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Paolo Virzi's "Caterina va in citta" is a film where he decided to throw his own personal take in the Italian society of the present. Mr. Virzi is a director of talent. In this film, he decides to give us a disarming heroine, Caterina, who is at the center of two opposing factions, the left and the right.

At the beginning of the film we meet Giancarlo Iacovani, who is a teacher in a northwest coastal town, perhaps in Tuscany. He is telling his boring students how he has hated them for making his life miserable while trying to teach them something, as he is bailing out to his native Rome, where he is finally been transferred.

His daughter Caterina, the intense and earnest teen ager, is seen practicing in the chorus and she gets carried away singing the beautiful music she adores. She appears not too keen on the moving to Rome. The area where they are moving to seems to be a place where chaos reigns and where the apartments are so close to one another that the young girls can see all what's going on with all the neighbors across the street.

As Caterina is going to start classes, a proud Giancarlo, is seen taking her to her first day of school at the same one where he has gone himself, years before. The class Caterina joins is an unruly place where the young people are clearly from two different factions, those with money and right wing sympathizers, or those with money but left wingers leaning into communism. Caterina is made feel unwelcome for sticking out as she doesn't belong with one group, or the other.

Upon going home from the first day of school and showing her father Giancarlo the names of her classmates, he becomes impressed because most of the students seem to be connected to who's who in Rome! Caterina is accepted first by Margherita, the rebel with left wing parents. Caterina learns this girl has gotten rid of her father's manuscript, which he had sent to Margherita's mother, an editor. Then, Daniela, the leader of the opposite faction, takes her under her wing and sophisticates her appearance. At the end, Caterina realizes Daniella is no friend either. The affection that Daniela's cousin shows to Caterina is thwarted when her snobbish mother makes a point to tell him to stop seeing the provincial girl.

The film keeps a fast pace that works for the movie. It seems that Mr. Virzi parallels the life in Rome to what we are seeing. The city, alas, has the wrong effect in Giancarlo, who is suspended from his teaching post and as he tries to fight for it, he is made aware he doesn't amount to anything and decides to take off on his own after he fixes his old motorcycle. It is clear at this point that Agata, the long suffering wife, has had it with his ups and downs as she finds solace with Fabietto, the kind bachelor friend.

The best thing in the film is Alice Teghil, who, as Caterina, is seen exploring new things that ultimately can't compare with the life she had in the small town she came from, with all its problems and small mindedness. Sergio Castellito plays the strident Giancarlo, a man that comes unglued in pursuing his dream of returning to the capital with little success once he is there. Margherita Buy, a beautiful actress, has little to do as Agata, the long suffering wife of Giancarlo. She is the only sane person we encounter in the film.

As the bad girls, Carolina Iaquaniello, is the grungy-Italian-style-like Margherita, the girl grown among the intellectual crowd. Federica Sberema, plays Daniela, the rich girl who is a mess and who moves with a fast crowd. The supporting cast do a good job.

The best part is the ending in which we watch the radiant Caterina doing what she does best: singing to her heart's content!
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Great Location for externals
arzewski22 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Was impressed with the locations that the film makers chose film the externals.

The school "Luchino Visconti" is THE school that the roman elite has traditionally placed their kids. The curriculum here is pretty heavy in ancient Greek and Latin texts.

The town of Montalto Di Castro, shown in the beginning and the end. BTW, it is not in Tuscany, as many other commenter's claim, but still in the region of Lazio. The beach scene at the end shows a huge power plant in the background. That is a nuclear energy plant, and saying you are from Montalto Di Castro is synonymous to saying you are from Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. The folks there are on the front line should there be a radiation leak.

The run-down Tuscan-looking farmhouse where Margherita's father is living his second, and already struggling, marriage. Stereotypical living quarters of washed-down intellectuals.

The town of Sabbaudia, where Daniela's father travels to to attend a wedding. It was entirely built by Mussolini in the 1930's. Thus the obvious reference to its past with the group singing of a fascist song, "Inno Dei Giovani Fascisti". Text of the song is:

"Popol Di Destra, Che Forte Adempie E Rompe Con Ali E Fiamme, La Giovinezza Va. Fiaccole Ardenti Sull'Are, Sulle Tombe Noi Siamo Le Speranze Della Nuova Età. Duce, Duce, Chi Non Saprà Morir? Il Giuramento Chi Mai Rinnegherà? Nuda La Spada Quando Tu La Vuoi Gagliardetti Al Vento, Tutti Verranno A Te Armi, Bandiere Degli Antichi Eroi Per L'Italia, O Duce, Fa Balenare Al Sol Va, La Vita Va Così Ci Porta E Ci Promette L'Avvenir Una Vasta Gioventù Con Romana Volontà, Combatterà. Verrà, Quel Dì Verrà, Che La Gran Madre Degli Eroi Ci Chiamerà Per Il Duce, O Patria Per Il Re Noi Griderem Gloria E Impero D'Oltremar. "

And it is here that one of the most interesting storyline techniques is made: with the wedding party singing the fascist song, suddenly the storyline jumps forward to the future, showing Daniela's father in a car riding back to Rome, and commenting on the day's event, with short clips of the (past) wedding party and fascist song singing, then back to the future, then back to the past. He makes the point that he "knows these people well" and that it is his "responsibility to guide the Nation forward". So, although of the evident right-wing background, it is revealed that he is, after all, a politician with a conscience.

A similar ploy of storyline and imagery injection is done with the clip of Caterina's father crying along with the crying of Gianfilippo (tentative boyfriend).

The only location that doesn't mesh well is the Monte Dei Cocci in Testaccio, with a cross on top of a hill overlooking the city. The area is fenced, trespassing not allowed, and enforced. But then, it is accurate again, as only the grungy Margherita could think of going there, since the area has traditionally been known for squatters, gypsies, and an alternative music school.

BTW, the choice of using the character of the Australian kid, Edward, is a good one. Being from such a far away land, he is shown to be someone that can make an unspoiled and objective point-of-view (literally, from his soap-opera revealing bedroom window view). And from reading the blogs in Italy, it seems that all the teenage girls in Italy are all in love with him.
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Disarming Italian comedy (with political undertones)
Andy-29628 December 2006
This excellent Italian comedy is very similar in plot to Mean Girls (who came out in about the same time). The difference is that this is a much more politicized film. Caterina is a shy teenager from a small town in Italy, who moves to Rome with her long-suffering mother and her teacher father, when he is assigned to a new job there. In her new school, she has to choose to what clique to belong: the children of the progressive intellectuals or the children of the rich industrialists. The left or the right. What this film says is that these people are not terribly different between themselves. They both hold a degree of fame and power in Italian society, and look down upon those who don't. The outstanding performance in the movie is that of Caterina's father, the teacher Giancarlo (Sergio Castellito), a hothead angry that others have gotten all the breaks in life, who rants against the rich and privileged but who would sell his soul in a second in order to join the establishment. He is a familiar type of malcontent in real life but one who is seldom shown in the movies. There is a silly subplot of Caterina falling in love with an Australian boy (What they did that for? To reach an international market?), but all in all, this is one of the best Italian movies of the last years.
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This should have been a great film
nolanjwerner16 April 2006
I wish I could say that this was a great film because there really were a lot of things that one could like about it.

As it turns out, however, it is a good, but flawed film. I will give this film a recommendation, I think it is worth seeing.

The film made a number of incredible social statements. It really cuts to the quick about the nature of society, the people who can manipulate the system on both sides are in collusion with each other to keep their privilege. The people who are on the outside find themselves on the outside, looking in. They can be taken under someone's wing but they are never really more then a pet, the Jimmy Olsen to someone's Superman.

The film had spectacular acting, particularly from the lead.

So what then keeps the film from being great? One of the biggest problems comes from the episodic and picaresque structure of the film. It has the kind of structure that is more interesting because of its discontinuity then because of its continuity. And while it makes for a lot of interesting discussions, this could turn a lot of people off, probably even more then the subtitles.

Honestly, the problem is that it begins with Caterina being pulled in many directions and it allows us to see facets of her through these different social lenses. The trouble is that we never get a baseline reading on her in the beginning before she moves to Rome. This is done very well but we never get the impression of her as anything more then a tablet that the ideologies of others are being written on, even at the end of the film when she supposedly finds herself. I won't give a spoiler as to how but the ending that someone else commented was her in her element is really just another case of this.

You know what, I've changed my mind. This is a wonderful film to watch. Its a spectacular way to look at what life is really like when you are outside the powerful and privileged circles of society and you can only be influenced by the ideologies of others but you really lack any voice of your own.

Watch this along with Welcome to the Dollhouse and see what life was like for the rest of us. Let this film show you the social cliques, collusion and ideology and let Solondz show you the sheer cruelty of a society that, as J. G. Ballard said, normalized psychopathy. And see it for what it really is, not some sugarcoated network television version (I think you guys know what very popular television series I'm talking about).
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Funny, Sad, Touching. Worth your time
dmeltz26 June 2005
Caterina gives us an opportunity to feel and a chance to hope. A young girl both naive and somehow mature, she is unsure of what she wants in life. Her task is learning to navigate the waters of a high school in Rome where she is the new girl from the sticks when her father is transfered from a small town on the coast. He fulfills his dream of returning to the cultural mecca of the capital where he hopes to take his "rightful" place among the intelligentsia. But the film turns on just this point–"rightful place". There are no simple answers, though we do have an opportunity to see how complex it is to find one's place, rightful or not, in the world. Caterina is something of a metaphor for the Italian populace at large, I would think. But she is more than this. There is something about her story that touched me, several decades and half a world away from the world she inhabits, a world stratified by cliques and patronage, prejudice and injustice...a world very much like the one I live in and the one I imagine most of us live in. Caterina–as the film that bears her name–does not take the easy way out in running away or self-repression or living a life of quiet desperation, even when her sheltered provincial upbringing and less-than-ideal family situation do not give her any clues on how to deal with her new life and classmates from prominent families. She tries to adjust to the fast-pace and superficiality of life in the Italian capital, and much of the fun of the movie is seeing her in the various situations she encounters along the way. Her father is great as the frustrated writer with no talent and a loud voice, a self-important boor. My heart goes out to all the Caterinas of the world, who go forward with optimism and pure heart even when they know the odds are against them.
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Nice, as ususal... A bit too nice, maybe...
picouli6 March 2004
I think Virzì is one of the most interesting director in Italy, at the present moment. His ability to portray the current Italian society is quite good, and he achieves this either with *characters* (the two families in "Ferie d'Agosto", the father in "Caterina va in città") and with *stories* (the story of "Ovosodo", a bit of an Italian "It's a wonderful life"... just a bit, obviously... :-).

"Caterina va in città" is a good movie: the idea of showing chunks of the Italian society and habits through the eyes of an innocent teenager gives the movie a "fairy tale" twist that makes it really "light" and enjoyable. I also liked the mom's character, played by a really good and beautiful Margherita Buy: in general, I appreciated Virzì's idea that the "good" part of society is based on the strength of women, as all male characters in this movie either are donquixotesque losers or spoiled and arrogant over-grown babies.

But, as for most of his movies, I think the same criticism again apply: Virzì is openly a left-wing director, but he stresses this a bit too much and sometimes its works sound too "ideological": art should make you think, not tell you what to think, I guess. In addiction, some characters are too stereotypical and don't come out of a really deep psychological analysis. Still, I think he is currently the director who knows best how to take on the screen what goes on in Italy.

In conclusion, I think this movie - just like "Ovosodo" - is based on a simple yet powerful assumption: that happiness is the disease of the idiots...
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A Film Filed to Overflowing with Stories and Information
gradyharp1 July 2006
'Caterina va in citta' ('Caterina in the Big City') is an Italian film that takes as its storyline the coming of age of a young teenager transported by her family from the quiet Tuscany seaside village of Montaldo Di Castro to the challenging realities of Big City Rome, but that is only the means to an end of exploring Italian politico-social life and its effects on the youth of today. It comes very close to drowning in its own excesses, but at the root of the film is a sensitive tale of a young girl's struggles with growing into an adulthood that puzzles, frightens and challenges her.

Caterina (Alice Teghil) finds her greatest moments of happiness in her home town singing mezzo soprano in the choir: simple pleasures in a simple setting surrounded by country folk content to live life day to day. Her father Giancarlo (Sergio Castellitto) is a teacher who can't hold a job, partially because he is so outspoken and partially because he is a raving truly obnoxious person. Her mother Agata (Margherita Buy) is subservient, a woman with few coping mechanisms who allows her odious husband to run an abusive household. Giancarlo's aunt is ill in Rome and with the idea of finding a job where his talents are respected, Giancarlo uproots his little family and moves to the big city. There the social castes are evident and Caterina is judged a country hick until she is befriended by first a rebel who bonds with Caterina, introduces her to tattoos and liquor, and causes a schism between her important mother (Giancarlo hoped to have is novel published by the woman), the daughter and his family. Caterina then is absorbed into the rich and spoiled rank and file of the wealthy, not fitting in until the girls do a make over. That situation is again disrupted by Giancarlo's blindly inappropriate behavior. The true Caterina is somehow lost, still dreaming of becoming a fine mezzo soprano, but tagging along with the crowd du jour. Ultimately Giancarlo's multiple and consistent failures drive him away from the family, he rides off to oblivion on his restored motorbike, and Agata and Caterina both bloom.

The noise level of this film is such that it is difficult to watch: the young girls means of communication is a mixture of screaming, loud talking, and fighting and otherwise making us uncomfortable. Yet underneath all of the political and social expose and brandishing is a truly wonderful young Caterina whose life as a soap opera is watched tenderly by an Australian boy who plays the guitar and observes her family from a window across the way from Caterina's Rome home. The moments toward the end of the film when the playback comes justifies the fuss of getting there.

This is not a film this viewer would sit through again, but reflecting on the story after all the commotion is over, hearing Mozart's 'Ave Verum Corpus' and Verdi's 'Nabucco" etc as the inspiration behind Caterina's honest dreams, makes is a more memorable experience. In Italian with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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>>>!!!*~~~I loved the film~~~*!!!<<<
resikane4 November 2004
I am a student in Australia, in year 9, 15 years old, studying Italian at LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown. I viewed this film as an excursion 3 days ago, and I loved it. I feel for Caterina because I guess I am a little naive in a way. She didn't realize that people were using her, she didn't realize that Margherita liked her in a different, more romantic way, she didn't know about a lot that went on in Rome. It was a very nice, dramatic and funny storyline, and i suppose it appeals to a large audience. I rated it 9/10. I took off 1 mark because I feel not enough was shown of Edward, the guy she loved, the guy from "down under", the guy who most Australians can identify with. He played a prime role in my eyes because he brought her life back on track when she had run away. A little more could have also been shown of Fabietto and Agata's relationship. This film was an excellent representation of the comparison between the posh side of Italy and the grateful and appreciative side of Italy
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An Italian THIRTEEN , but more ambitious
gortx13 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Made around the same time as the American film THIRTEEN, CATERINA IN THE CITY (the U.S. release title unnecessarily adds "BIG" - as if we don't know how large Rome is!), shows us a young girl moving from the suburbs to Rome proper. As fine a film as THIRTEEN was in many respects, CATERINA is even more ambitious as it adds politics and class to the stew of a young girl's coming of age (though CATERINA falls short of THIRTEEN in the sexuality department).

CATERINA is perhaps too ambitious for its own good. Though the film balances the various story lines and themes fairly well, you can't help but feel that it would have been stronger as drama if it were more focused. Still, CATERINA gives us a glimpse of the social turbulence that is going on in modern day Italy (can one even imagine such a toxic stew in an American "Teen Film"? Can you picture Hillary Duff going to a Communist rally and NOT have it be done as a joke or a farce!?).

And, what would normally be the "big dramatic climax" in the story towards the end, is treated as just another bump on the road in Caterina's life. In fact, Caterina just shrugs and hopes that the person is doing fine where they are. No big tantrums or ruined lives. How refreshing.
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That 1940s bomber crew are back...
I saw 'Caterina va in Città' in Sydney, where the audience had mixed reactions to the schoolboy who speaks Italian with what's apparently meant to be a Sydneysider accent. In general, I was impressed by the ensemble acting, but I felt that the best performance was given by Margherita Buy as the heroine's mother Agata. I was disappointed that Agata has so little to do with the main plot of the film.

The symbolism is just a trifle heavy-handed in this movie. Remember those Hollywood war movies from World War Two, in which the bomber crew conveniently had one member of every (white) ethnic group? (And there was usually one rich guy and one guy from the slums.) Well, director/co-scriptwriter Paolo Virzi has got that gimmick here, Italian style. When 15-year-old Caterina's parents move house from a Tuscan seaside town to Rome and enrol her in a big-city school, the student body conveniently includes the full spectrum of Italy's national archetypes. For example, Daniela is wealthy, beautiful and popular, the daughter of an official in the right-wing government. Margherita is a left-wing 'revolutionary', the daughter of a famous intellectual. Of course, the film implies that Margherita is somehow better and more 'authentic' than Daniela.

Because I found the political subplots of this movie to be deeply clichéd -- especially since Italy is in no position to lecture any other nation on the subject of politics -- I was pleased that the film's political content stays firmly secondary. The main story of this movie is, rightly, Caterina's uneasy and awkward progress through adolescence and into adulthood. It's no surprise to discover that being a teenage girl in modern Italy is difficult, but surely every adolescent -- male, female, rich, poor, in any century or culture -- has found adolescence to be a difficult time of transition. Except for some of its political comments, I found this to be a very honest and intelligent film, with characters I really cared about. I'll rate 'Caterina va in Città' 8 out of 10, and I look forward to more films from Paolo Virzi. Brava, Caterina!
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Caterina is the only 3-dimensional character in the film
gf170119 October 2004
I rooted for Caterina as she discovers herself and the world around her, but it is a world full of one-dimensional people. All the secondary characters in this film--with the exception of Caterina's neighbor, Edward, who appears too briefly--show only one side of themselves. Her father rants and raves throughout, except for his period of deep depression, where he does nothing at all. Her mother is meek and clueless. Her friends are either spoiled brats or angry rebels. I found them all to be insufferable, and the movie suffered for it. Both we and Caterina deserved better.

("Mean Girls" covers some of the same ground as this film, minus the politics, and does it much better.)
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The chauffeur was the only good character in this movie.
Master_Oatmeal14 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I did not like this movie. The characters were very one dimensional people, with the exception of Caterina. The mother was an idiot, the father was obnoxious with the exception of loving his daughter, the Australian boy that's revealed too late in the film just stands there like Edward the vampire and kisses Caterina at the end. The "friends" Caterina gets in the movie are either bratty or just plain evil and had no personality other than being mean. If not to Caterina than to their mother as in the case of her first friend. There's really little to say that's good about this film, I suppose it has good cinematography and there's a good moment of shock when they do the Fascist salute at the wedding. Oh and the chauffeur hits one of the girls so he became my favorite character in that instant.
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I owe my happiness to this wonderful, wonderful film
greenylennon22 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Caterina va in città" has the quality every great Italian masterpiece has: every time you watch it, you discover a topic you hadn't noticed before and you never get tired of his funny sequences, mainly because from those scenes you draw the conclusions about what this film wanted to communicate.

"Caterina va in città" can count on some of the best current Italian actors: Sergio Castellitto and Margherita Buy, who play Caterina's parents, share a perfect chemistry. You can believe they are a married couple since more than ten years in this film, and you can't do anything but appreciate the aristocratic Mrs Buy finally playing a bungler, mind-absent, but loving and a bit boor Italian mummy. You can't argue about Castellitto: the things his character says are sadly true in Italy nowadays. The beginner Alice Teghil is the ideal choice for the sweet Caterina: her innocent and deep eyes speak more than a thousand word. She's the only pure character in the whole film and you feel there's still justice in this world, when, in the closing scene, we see her singing happy and free in the National Academy of Santa Cecilia's choir. There're other remarkable performances: Federica Sbrenna (Daniela Germano), Carolina Iaquaniello (Margherita Rossi Chaillet), for example, and also Claudio Amendola (Daniela's father), Flavio Bucci and Galatea Ranzi (Margherita's parents). Behind the camera there's Paolo Virzì, one of the most sharp and smart directors in Italy.

I lived a situation similar to Caterina's two years ago, and, because of this heaven-sent film, I understood a lot of things and finally resolved that annoying problem. That's way I owe my happiness and my inner peace to this film. Thanks, thanks, and still thanks, Caterina.
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Caterina and her parents
andrabem12 August 2007
"Caterina va in città" seems like your typical teen film. It somehow reminds me of "Thirteen", but it goes a little deeper than the average American teen film.

In American teen films the parents are normally reduced to simple shadows that serve more as a background for their sons and daughters' lives - they are either of the preaching-repressive sort, or the tolerant, ever-forgiving parents, that eventually through love will help their children to the way of redemption.

Not so, "Caterina va in città". In this film, not just Caterina ( Alice Teghil) but her parents as well are portrayed as three-dimensional human beings and this makes the film more interesting.

Caterina and her parents move from a small Italian town to Rome. And there Caterina's life will be shaken. She goes to high school and meets new friends - many new things happen in her life. She feels uprooted from her old self, and doesn't know anymore who she really is.

One can say that "Caterina va in città" is a coming of age film - it portrays her search for her place in the world - many American teen films tell the same story. But what differentiates this film from its American counterparts is the attention it gives to the parents. The father Giancarlo (Sergio Castellito) is a deeply disturbed personality. He thinks the world revolves around him and there's a conspiracy of important segments of society whose main aim is preventing him from succeeding in life. He is an egoist that treats his wife as a dumb servant and his daughter as a beautiful puppy. But no, he's not a "bad" man - in his own distorted way he loves his wife and his daughter. Sergio Castellito gives us a stellar interpretation as the problematic father, underlining his pathetic and quixotic traits. Agata (Margherita Buy), is his ever-enduring wife - she has a deeper layer than it may appear at first glance. And there's Caterina living with them, seeing them with her innocent eyes.

The other characters in the film are what one could call walking clichés. Nothing that has not been shown before in American teen movies. Politics shows its colors in the film, but in a very superficial way. It's not really essential for the film's story - left and right could have been easily substituted for rival football teams.

The ending (difficult to imagine in American films) will come as a surprise and have a liberating effect on the viewer. All in all, "Caterina va in città" is a good teen film thats stands a bit above the usual film of the genre.
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Better than Thirteen
gothMJ15 December 2006
I have seen this movie today in Italian language. This is not a very famous film, but in my humble opinion it is better that other films with the same kind of argument, such as Thirteen. It has a nice touch of humor and it provides a sight of different perspectives of the society. There is a contrast of personalities, two different ways of living, indeed three, the third one is the one that can't find their place even if they try to fit on the main currents. Some people will find themselves identified with one of the main currents and other will find themselves in the middle of the path. I have enjoyed it a lot. So, if you liked Thirteen you'll love this one for sure! Regards.
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annoying characters...
lekkerruiker4 August 2005
I found it very hard to bring up sympathy for the characters in this film. Acctualy, the only person I liked was the chauffeur, and only because he slapped one of the annoying kids. All the characters were awfully stereotyped and practically all the events were clichés. It was very easy to predict what was going to happen. The two girls that represent the two political visions are the best examples.

Due to the fact that I'm Dutch and not Italian doesn't really give me the right to comment this because I'm not fully familiar with the Italian political atmosphere etc. Maybe in Italy it is that Black/White...
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Big Rock Candy Mountain
valis194914 April 2010
CATERINA IN THE BIG CITY offers a novel and original approach to The Teen Genre. A timeless 'Coming of Age' tale is portrayed with truth and style, although the specifics of contemporary Italian politics lose a bit in translation, even a viewer who is ignorant of European politics is not left in the dark. Caterina (played by Alice Teghil) is a junior high school aged student who relocates to Rome with her family. Her father is a frustrated teacher who feels that his career has been sidetracked in the sleepy, coastal town of Monalto, and looks forward to the possibility of social and intellectual advancement in the big city. Soon, he runs up against the stratified nature of Italian society, and Caterina encounters the same setup, but within her school system. From her first day in class, she meets classmates who toss around political jeremiads which they don't really comprehend, but are very emotionally attached. Although, by the end of the school year, Caterina is moved and changed by her experiences, she seems to understand that these emotionally charged names and categories never tell the whole story, and really amount to passionate clichés. Paolo Virzì, the director, is known in Italy for his ability to examine the entrenched nature of Italian politics with humor and insight. CATERINA IN THE BIG CITY an intelligent look at what it is like to live in a stratified society, and to strive to locate your unique and proper place.
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Caterina discovers that life in the big city is complex
rosscinema26 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
My reaction to viewing this film is one that suggests that a missed opportunity took place because what could have been a potentially fascinating film instead turned out to be something that quickly loses steam. Story is about 12 year old Caterina Iocovoni (Alice Teghil) who moves from the small town of Montaldo Di Castro to Rome where her father Giancarlo (Sergio Castellitto) grew up. Giancarlo is a frustrated accounting teacher who hates his job and dreams of being a writer but perceives that his lack of success comes from society itself.

*****SPOILER ALERT***** Once Caterina enters school she discovers that her class is divided into two main cliques with one side being the radical left intellectual socialists while the other side is the spoiled reactionary industrialist fascists. Caterina first becomes friends with Margherita (Carolina Iaquaniello) who usually buries herself in her bedroom and lights incense but when she shows herself to be too passionate about affairs it forces Caterina to keep her distance. She then becomes friendly with the incredibly rich and spoiled Daniela (Federica Sbrenna) who's father is an important politician but she proves to be shallow and inconsiderate and it leaves Caterina out of both loops. Meanwhile, Giancarlo tries to use all of his daughters friends in an attempt to get their parents to read his unpublished novel but while he's busy embarrassing himself his wife Agata (Margherita Buy) is having an affair with an old friend.

This is directed by Paolo Virzi and the general premise of his film is pretty interesting with young Caterina discovering the cultural schisms of Italian society but I felt that what Virzi wanted to say was said about halfway through with the remainder of his film becoming labored. The performances are solid with Teghil showing enough wide eyed innocence to make her character believable but the film also gives Castellitto another opportunity to prove that's he's one of Europe's finest character actors. Along with the script dragging towards the end I also had a sense that the film has a strong disdain for Rome itself and wanted to show that true happiness is found only in small communities which isn't a bad perspective but I had a feeling that this was used just as an excuse for the characters actions. I certainly didn't dislike this film and it does take an admirable stab at something that's culturally significant (are you listening Hollywood?) but the film as a whole makes it's point early enough and than ultimately becomes tiresome going down the stretch.
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