Lovehate (Amoreodio): Film Review

Courtesy of Montreal International Film Festival
Murder and teen sex produce a surprisingly faint pulse in dry Italian thriller.

A teenage girl convinces her boyfriend to help kill her parents.

MONTREAL — More clinical than its pulpy outline suggests, Christian Scardigno's Lovehate introduces a 17 year-old girl whose generic resentment of her parents is so intense she talks her boyfriend into helping her try to kill them. Gestures toward both noir and a more psychological investigation of real-world teen violence are both unfulfilled here, resulting in a work that has the feel of the arthouse but holds little promise there.

Katia (Francesca Ferrazzo) is a sexually active teen who has been dating Andrea (Michele Degirolamo) for five months. She seems bored when they have sex (in fact, she seems bored through the entire film), she meets other boys in bathroom stalls, and she's more than attractive enough to date someone better looking and more confident; but she behaves as if she has settled on him, and resents her parents for suggesting they spend less time together.

For reasons that are never clear to the viewer -- the parent/child strife here is low-wattage enough that many households would be lucky to be so calm -- she resents her parents enough to want to kill them. After building up to it in vague comments about wanting to "come up with something" more exciting than swigging gin in an abandoned farm house, Katia finally suggests it with the promise that, once her parents are gone, Andrea can move into the house and they can be together forever.

That enticement is classic noir, but Ferrazzo and Scardigno offer few clues as to what's going on in this young femme fatale's head. Is she exploiting the boy, or does she really intend to be with him? Does she really hate her parents, or is she suffering from anhedonia to such an extent that murder seems the only way she'll feel anything? The director conveys Katia's alienation from the adult world -- filmed in slo-mo, with voices distorted and shoved into the background -- but the nature of her detachment is never clear.

In the absence of a compelling psychological angle, the film's dry, slow-moving approach makes little sense. Mauro Del Nero's score is tasteful but not used to generate suspense in the buildup to and investigation of the teens' crime; Degirolamo's performance is much less opaque than his co-star's, but poor Andrea (whose interest in knives, introduced early on and then dropped, is a thematic red herring) doesn't get enough of the film's attention to affect its mood much.

Production Company: Underdog Film

Cast: Francesca Ferrazzo, Michel Degirolamo, Chiara Petruzzelli, Raffaele Buranelli, Piergiuseppe Francione, Gianluca Cammisa

Director-Screenwriter: Cristian Scardigno

Producers: Gianluca Cammisa, Francesco Boschetti, Francesco Crivaro, Lorenzo Robino, Cristian Scardigno

Director of photography: Francesco Crivaro

Production designer: Valentina Troisio

Music: Mauro Del Nero

Editor: Massimiliano Ross

No rating, 103 minutes

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