Eye For Film >> Movies >> Benzina (2001) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Stanners
Stella (Maya Sansa) and Lenni (Regina Orioli) are lovers, much to the censure of Lenni's mother (Marielli Valentini). Stella is a mechanic at the petrol station and Lenni works at the café. Having not seen her daughter for two years, mamma pops in one day to find the pair in a passionate embrace and decides to give young Lenni a piece of her mind. Mamma is a beautiful, seductive blonde Italian, whose looks have been passed on to her daughter. She doesn't like lesbians, doesn't like the way her daughter dresses and sure as hell doesn't like Stella.
A nasty argument breaks out between mother and daughter, resulting in a clip around the ear for Lenni. An enraged Stella lashes out and pushes mamma to the ground, accidently killing her. This and the problem of what to do with the body comprises the first half of the equation. The second half comes in the shape of three local weirdos with a video camera.
Two guys and a girl bully Stella into giving them petrol. When she says no and scratches their car, they begin to tail her wherever she goes, filming whatever they can, and making a nuisance of themselves.
Meanwhile, Stella and Lenni take a wodge of money from the dead mother and make plans for a sharp exit. From here the relationship develops through flashbacks and minor conversations. Lenni is incredibly shy and Stella just doesn't say much. In fact, the film doesn't have a great deal to say, either.
Co writer/director Monica Stambrini has deliberately understated the dialogue between the two girls, while playing up the sense of affection with looks, glares and silences. This works quite well, as Stella and Lenni come to terms with each other's body and mind, and has the subtlety and deft touch probably only a woman could create.
This is more a film about moments than plot. The story is spare and what does happen burns slowly until the highly explosive ending. Still, it does offer genuine moments between the pair, a tribute to the performances, particularly from Orioli, and a sure-handed director with a flair for capturing natural human reactions.
There is a distinct nod and a wink at Thelma And Louise, but, in the end, not the spark.Reviewed on: 08 Apr 2004