Runtime: 80 minutes
Directors: Andrea Brusa, Marco Scotuzzi
Writer: Andrea Brusa
Cast: Giovanni Storti, Alessandra Faiella, Davide Calgaro
By Joan Amenn
Italian women, as I can attest, are opinionated. They have particularly strong opinions about food and family but may lack a bit in tact and diplomacy. This probably does not make them the best candidates for potential Internet video celebrities but there is no harm in trying. Or maybe there is.
Rita (Alessandra Faiella) and her family live in Italy where the beginning of the pandemic is hitting the economy hard. Her husband Giovanni (Giovanni Storti) is fortunate enough to find work as a crane operator in Poland but she finds the distance between them hard to bear. Like any Italian woman, she is concerned about what he is eating in a foreign country that thinks that pizza should taste like ketchup on cardboard. She and her son Pietro hatch a plan for the family to spend quality time together recording cooking lessons with Giovanni. It is a very sweet and touching project at first but then the videos that he posts for his father’s reference go viral. Suddenly, Rita and Giovanni are thrown into a world of online fame that they are completely unprepared for.
Like any Italian woman, she is concerned about what he is eating in a foreign country that thinks that pizza should taste like ketchup on cardboard.
There is a lot of very clever camera work in “Lonely Voices” that create a tension between the industrial world where men earn their living through physical labor and the virtual world where product promotions bring sponsorship money and more to video hosts. As Italy shuts down and employment dries up, it is understandable that Rita would want to grasp at an opportunity to be “lucky” as she calls it. Her son learns all be can from some anonymous American video “guru” about successful marketing and brand building, which leads to some funny moments when he tries to educate his parents.
Slyly satirical and tenderhearted about the value of family, “Lonely Voices” is charming even if it has a bite in how it portrays the modern world of internet communities. The voices referenced in the title refer to those who actively post negative commentary on videos, often to the point of being hysterical in their vitriol. As Giovanni says at one point, “They may be lonely but they are very loud and I am not deaf.”
“Lonely Voices” has a gentle message about how to find comfort in loved ones and food (of course) even in the worst of times that still resonates even as the pandemic is ebbing in its threatening horror. Rita and Giovanni have a strong relationship that is an inspiration even if they are twisted into a modern-day version of Punch and Judy for the clickbait crowd. Directors Andrea Brusa and Marco Scotuzzi have created a love story for the age of Covid that is warm, funny, and delicious. Che bello!