Bad Girls

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Rome International Film Festival

ROME -- A bit of raunchy cinema now and then never did anyone harm. However, while "Bad Girls" establishes Matteo Rovere as a debut feature director with a sure technical hand and a taste for the contemporary, only the future will tell whether his next films will be as original as his award-winning shorts. For now, he has gone down the path of imitation with very uneven results.

Though it failed to impress the press at the Rome International Film Festival, where it featured in competition, the slick but essentially silly film came in 11th at the boxoffice on its opening weekend. While not blockbuster material, it is nevertheless attracting the teenage audiences at which is aimed, helped by a bit of controversy.

"Bad Girls" initially earned the rare "Over 18" rating in Italy, apparently not because of some nudity, lewd sexual references or cocaine sniffing, but for a line that mocks one of the Ten Commandments. However, a different censorship board later dropped the rating to "Over 14."

Elena (Chiara Chiti) is a bored, rich, teenage femme fatale who despises pretty much everything, at times even best friends Alice (Nadir Caselli) and Michela (Desiree Noferini) and especially family and school. In new and earnest Italian teacher Mario Landi (Filippo Nigro) she meets her match (he's the only teacher who isn't afraid to stand up to her) and finds the perfect victim for a sadistic trap.

Model-turned-actress Chiti make a surprisingly good debut as a heartless bitch and Caselli and Noferini are up to par as the slightly better bad girls. But while the film captures the nightclub/ecstasy scene well, and how its chaos wears away at the nerves, it never shakes off its American feel.

Even in its set pieces and dialogue "Bad Girls" is a knock-off of any number of U.S. films -- Neve Campbell vehicle "Wild Things" comes most prominently to mind. Rovere even features a closing shot in a swimming pool that is identical to that film's poster.

Yet the film's biggest weakness is an ending that just crumbles apart. No one is redeemed, which is fine, but so many lives are ruined in such an unlikely climax that instead of being dark or dramatic, the last 10 minutes are almost pure camp.

Production companies: RAI Cinema, Colorado Film.
Cast: Filippo Nigro, Chiara Chiti, Nadir Caselli, Desiree Noferini, Chiara Paoli, Valentina Carnelutti, Stefano Santospago, Giorgo Corcos.
Director: Matteo Rovere.
Screenwriters: Teresa Ciabatti, Andrea Cotti, Sandrone Dazieri, Rovere.
Producer: Maurizio Totti.
Director of photography: Arnaldo Catinari.
Production designer: Eugenia F. Di Napoli.
Music: Andrea Farri.
Costume designer: Monica Celeste.
Editor: Claudio Di Mauro.
Sales Agent: RAI Trade.
No rating, 99 minutes.


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