Lovely Boy

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Lovely Boy
"The film also gets hung up on its two time-period structure, without greatly benefiting from it."

Italian trap music - a blend of hip hop, dance and dub, which takes its name from the Atlanta slang "trap" for a house that sells drugs - is the backdrop for what amounts to a familiar tale of addiction and potential recovery in Francesco Lettieri's film.

The action travels back and forth between two periods in the life of trap star Nic (Andrea Carpenzano) - whose stage name Lovely Boy is tattooed under one eye. In the first, we see him finding fame with his bandmate Borneo (Enrico Bornello), while his life and his relationship with girlfriend (Ludovica Martino) start to fragment as he slides into addiction, while the second unfolds at a remote rehab facility in the Dolomites.

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Aside from the slightly unusual music scene setting, which is well realised by the director, who no doubt drew on his music video background to make it authentic, there's little here to distinguish this from many similar addiction tales. Carpenzano does a capable job in the central role, but there's often a sense of Lettieri indulging himself as he tries to fold pop music videos into the narrative and his central character is so nihilistic it's hard to get any sense of the psychological landscape he is navigating.

The film also gets hung up on its two time-period structure, without greatly benefiting from it. There's not enough revelation from the past to fully justify the back and forth and by chopping and changing between the two time periods, it makes it difficult for Lettieri to build an emotional momentum. Some of the interactions at the rehab centre are nicely worked, particularly the cautious relationship that develops between him and recovering addict Daniele (Daniele Del Plavignano) who has found a sort of peace working there, but despite the attempts at an edgy feel, some of what happens, particularly with Nic's girlfriend feels like the director wants to confirm to more comfortable mainstream expectations - this is, after all, a film that has headed straight to Sky Cinema in Italy. The heart of Lettieri's heart is definitely in the right place, but it doesn't have a particularly strong or unique beat.

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2021
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Nic, alias Lovely Boy, is a rising star on Rome's trap scene who becomes sucked into a spiral of self-destruction and has to go to a remote rehab centre.

Director: Francesco Lettieri

Writer: Peppe Fiore, Francesco Lettieri

Starring: Ludovica Martino, Andrea Carpenzano, Enrico Borello, Ludovica Martino, Andrea Carpenzano, Enrico Borello

Year: 2021

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: Italy

Festivals:

Venice 2021

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