Director Carlo Lavagna delivers a journey of sexual self-discovery in a world where the line between female and male is not conveniently defined. As protagonist Arianna says, she was born three times, and through her summer of sensual exploration we are given a deeper look into how we define ourselves and determine who we are.
Arianna is in her prime, almost twenty she is entering into a world where her peers are exploring their sexuality, embracing revealing clothes to accentuate their transgression into womanhood and experimenting with their bodies. However this exhilarating and tantalising world lies beyond a threshold she can’t enter, because at 19 she is yet to experience her period and finds herself trapped within a biological purgatory between her mental maturity and physical pre-pubescence. Ondina Quadri’s performance as Arianna is captivating, guiding us through her exploration with a naivety that is both endearing and saddening. She masters frustration at being lost in a world she should be enjoying, whilst her parents, played by Massimio Popolizzio and Valentina Carlutti, try sheltering her from a truth she needs to discover.
Lavagna’s Arianna is visually pleasing; set amongst the wild landscape surrounding the shores of Lake Bolsana in central Italy he captures the essence of Arianna in the beauty of the tranquil fields conflicted by the tumultuous ocean. His attempts at portraying the development of womanhood can at times stray into the realms of misinformed fantasy of girls scantily clad comparing each other’s breasts in their nighties – it rarely happens like that. However he balances the sexually promiscuous, carefree shenanigans of teenagers on a summer break with the distressing and degrading situations abnormal sexual development can create.
Giving a platform to LGBT issues without making an “issue” about them, Arianna is an emotionally climactic journey of discovery and acceptance.
Arianna is released nationwide on the 11th October 2015. It is part of the Debate competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Arianna here: