Movies are designed to teach audiences about themselves and each other. In certain cases, that could be about something as simple as common interests. For others, it could be something more interpersonal, like relationships, or being able to find your place in the world. L’immensità evokes the best of those themes and delivers an emotionally stirring cocktail of a movie.
In 1970’s Rome, Clara (Penélope Cruz) is a Spanish expatriate living with an unfaithful and abusive husband and three children. Her eldest child, 12-year-old Adriana (Luana Giuliani) experiences gender dysmorphia and adopts the more masculine name Andrea. What follows is a story of finding identity and the people who help you get there along the way.
At its core L’immensità is a love story between a mother and her child. That central idea was best conveyed in Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and newcomer Giuliani’s performances. Both actors give two of the most heartfelt and meaningful performances of the last year. Cruz’s performance is much more impactful than just being a “concerned mom.” She rides a line of giving Andrea agency but is also concerned with the life he has chosen. While Clara is far from the “perfect mother” stereotype, she never feels like a villain. Clara is someone dealing with her own problems but keeps her goals pure. She wants to give her child a life and happiness in a world that may not understand him.
The breakthrough performance of L’immensità is first-time actor Luana Giuliani. Giuliani is saddled with the most difficult role in the film. She has to stand up in a world that does not understand what she is going through. While having moments of emotional angst, the character never wavers their beliefs. Giuliani’s presence and composure instantly connect with audiences. You root for the character and cheer for him to break away from the negativity of the world. Fantastical musical numbers show the joy that Andrea wants in his life, as well as what Clara wants to give him. It is this lovely portrayal of a mother and her child, that makes L’immensità effective.
With a story this substantive, the hope would be for numerous behind-the-scenes special features. That is not the case on this DVD home release, which only includes two. Those features include a photo gallery and theatrical trailer which leaves much to be desired. Besides the lack of special features, both the picture and audio quality are able to compensate for it. There is a real vibrancy to the images, particularly in the film’s musical numbers. It is exciting, fast-paced, and a vivid look inside the minds of the characters. The same of which could be said for the quieter moments.
Even in the early scenes of domesticity, there’s a very strong sense of place. The sound design makes every noise, no matter how minimal, count. From the sounds of meals being cooked, conversations being had, and cigarettes being lit, you are transported to the ‘70s era. With the film being the equivalent of a melodrama, these moments keep things grounded. That grounded quality made me forgive more of the melodramatic rhythms.
L’immensità is the equivalent of a warm cinematic hug. The love story of parents and their children transcends through millennia. The overarching family drama is not anything new, but the core relationship between Clara and Andrea is pure and honest. It transcends clichés, blending realism and a sense of wonder to a meaningful effect. While the narrative can be a bit predictable, the emotional depths remain bountiful. Cruz and Giuliani are captivating from start to finish, without ever being archetypes. Performances this engaging make the film a must-see, even with a lack of home-release goodies.
L’immensità DVD Special Features:
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
Available on Blu-ray and DVD September 12th, 2023.
Available on Prime Video November 13th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Music Box Films L’immensità webpage.