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In Search of Fellini

United American // R // December 19, 2017
List Price: $0.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 24, 2018 | E-mail the Author


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In Search of Fellini DVD Review


In Search of Fellini is a strange,
offbeat, quirky film
which was inspired by a true story from co-screenwriter Nancy
Cartwright (voice
of Bart Simpson on The Simpsons). Executive produced by Monika
Bacardi,
Maria Bello, Kevin J. Burke,Nancy Cartwright, and Andrea Iervolino, In
Search of Fellini
is a odd little indie move which has its heart
in the
right place but absolutely falters as an experience.


Lucy (Ksenia Solo) is a young, naive woman who
stumbles upon
a film festival playing a series of Federico Fellini films. After she
sees the
magnificent La Strada for the first time she becomes completely
enthralled in the rich imagery and storytelling. Lucy falls in love
with Fellini's
films. It's love at first sight.


She proceeds to rent as many of the filmmakers
works as she
can find. She consumes each and every one of them with the same rabid
excitement. Each viewing brings her more joy and she implores her
mother to
watch some with her. Claire (Maria Bello), Lucy's mother, is ill and
has
sheltered her from experiencing life outside of her room and her
daydreams. She
encourages her daughter's enthusiasm.  


Lucy's daydreams start to turn into a strange,
offbeat
journey when Lucy decides she must meet the filmmaker who made these
films. She
begins writing letters to people who might have a connection to
Fellini. She is
determined that she meet him. Despite getting many responses indicating
that a
meeting cannot happen, Lucy sets out to meet him anyway and she goes on
a
journey to find Fellini.


Along the journey, Lucy encounters a number of
bizarre
characters much like those in Fellini's films and environments which
are quite reminiscent
of sequences from his filmography. Each strange experience seems to
lead to
another as she journeys across Italy looking for her beloved director.
Eventually,
Lucy even starts to find romance with a fellow young man, which begins
to brew
new feelings inside her.


Intended in part as a love letter to Fellini, the
film feels
too earnest and well-intentioned to be completely loathe to everything
about
it. It's trying to pay homage to the great filmmaker. It attempts,
repeatedly,
to paint a portrait of why people love Fellini's films. It does so with
so many
clear references throughout the film. You can't 100% hate it. You can
sense
that the filmmakers at least tried.


However, to be frank, this film is essentially a
lifetime
quality television movie attempting to be a gem of an indie sensation
for film
buffs. In Search of Fellini is a frustrating, numbing, and
awful
experience. It's difficult to image diehard Fellini fans actually
liking this
movie after seeing it. Loving it? Inconceivable! That's a fundamental
problem.


One of the reasons why it fails so terrifically is
that it
seems to only see Fellini's films at their surface level: the strange
quirkiness which composes so much of his filmography. It's approach to
exploring his style feels gimmicky and uninspired, lacking the same
heart,
pathos, and genius of Fellini. It's concept of Fellini is simply to be
strange
and offbeat. The result is a unwaveringly awful filmmaking experience
which
rampages from one poorly-conceived scene to another.


The movie has some below-average production design
work by
Todd Jeffery. Frequently trying to imitate Fellini's films, each
sequence is staggeringly
ill-conceived at actually conveying the spirit of these classics. It
feels so
false and uninspired by simply trying to recreate his work. Clearly
intended as
homage, to be fair, but the effort doesn't succeed.


Written by Nancy Cartwright and Peter Kjenaas, In
Search
of Fellini
has a serious storytelling issue. The concept is okay.
The fact
that it wants to be a love letter to Fellini is charming. The execution
is
dire. The characters feel paper-thin and the story progresses into
absurd
directions.


Directed by Taron Lexton, In Search of Fellini
fails
at the highest level as a film on the directing scale. Making a love
letter to
a great filmmaker is one thing. Trying to emulate their filmmaking
style completely
is another. Lexton doesn't seem to grasp why Fellini's movies are so
brilliant
so many decades on: their heart, their soul, their majesty. These are
the
things that carry them. This is why audiences love them. This film
doesn't come
close to conveying that.


The DVD:


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Video:


Presented on DVD in the original 2.35:1 widescreen
aspect
ratio with anamorphic enhancement for widescreen televisions. This is a
modest
looking DVD release. The film has modern, digital cinematography and
has decent
clarity and detail.


Audio:


English 5.1 Dolby Digital is
provided. Though the film lacks an immersive surround sound mix, the
music does
occasionally create a wider soundstage. The dialogue is easy to
understand. The
release does lack in bass but is otherwise perfectly fine for this type
of drama.


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Extras:


In Search of Fellini (SD, 9 min.) is a
short behind
the scenes featurette with interviews with the cast, crew, and
filmmakers.  


Audio commentary by writer/producer Nancy
Cartwright  and director
Taron
Lexton


Theatrical Trailer (and "bonus" trailer
for
This Beautiful Fantastic)


Final Thoughts:


In Search of Fellini is a terribly botched
attempt at
making a ode to Fellini. It's an embarrassing made-for-television
quality movie
which doesn't even remotely manage to inspire the wonder Fellini's
films can
create. On paper, the idea for the film sounded excellent. However,
with
regards to the execution, In Search of Fellini leaves much to
be
desired.


Skip It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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