There Will Come a Day (Un Giorno Dev Andare): Sundance Review

Strong central performance anchors tale of intercontinental spiritual recovery.

Filmmaker Giorgio Diritti's quiet story follows an emotionally wounded Italian seeking solace in Brazilian aid work.

PARK CITY -- Following a young Italian woman who goes on a spiritual walkabout after losing her unborn child and being abandoned by the baby's father, Giorgio Diritti's There Will Come a Day is a quiet, heartfelt story of grief and the longing for faith in God. A strong sense of place, often accompanied by beautiful scenes of the Amazon, will help with art house patrons, while strong performances bolster a narrative more reliant on atmosphere than plot.

Jasmine Trinca plays Augusta, who has fled her home in Italy to help her mother's friend Franca (Pia Engleberth), a nun traveling the Amazon via houseboat to minister to impoverished "Indios" and help them find medical aid. River-set scenes help spell out Augusta's desire to encounter "different values" to distract from her pain, but as Franca's missionary efforts get bogged down in religious detail, Augusta -- clearly having a hard time feeling God's presence -- runs off.

Settling in Manaus, where the poor live in a favela whose stilt-houses sit above stagnant, trash-strewn waters, she rents a room from a large family and begins to feel at home. Although it's little comfort to her mother Anna (Anne Alvaro), whose own faith is tested while waiting for the texts Augusta infrequently sends, being part of this family's attempts to support itself brings her a measure of satisfaction. The film's setting recalls last year's festival doc Bay of All Saints, where those with nearly nothing are expected to give even that up so developers -- who promise more compensation than they'll deliver -- can clean up and exploit the waterfront.

Diritti's story doesn't follow a familiar pain-redemption-closure arc, though it does employ some thematic parallels, as when one of Augusta's adoptive sisters must go on her own loss-driven spiritual journey (a development finally justifying the amount of time the film has spent cutting back to the nuns who support Sister Franca's mission). The final sequences, which chronicle the family's setbacks and Augusta's quasi-breakdown, convey the depths of her psychological wounds and acknowledge that this tale of healing will follow no easy path.

Production Companies: Aranciafilm, Lumiere & Co., Groupe Deux
Cast: Jasmine Trinca, Anne Alvaro, Pia Engleberth, Sonia Gessner, Amanda Fonseca Galvao, Paulo de Souza, Eder Frota dos Santos, Manuela Mendonca Marinho
Director: Giorgio Diritti
Screenwriters: Giorgio Diritti, Fredo Valla, Tania Pedroni
Producers: Simone Bachini, Giorgio Diritti, Lionello Cerri
Executive producer: Massimo Di Rocco
Director of photography: Roberto Cimatti
Production designers: Jean-Louis LeBlanc, Paola Comencini
Music: Marco Biscarini, Daniele Furlati
Costume designers: Hellen Crysthine Bentes Gomes, Lia Morandini
Editor: Esmeralda Calabria
Sales: Elle Driver
No rating, 106 minutes