Director: Alice Filippi
Cast: Ludovica Francesconi, Giuseppe Maggio, Gaja Masciale, Jozef Gjura, Eleonora Gaggero
Genre: Romantic comedy
Netflix release date: August 18, 2021
Duration: 1 hr 31 min
The TV behemoth Mindy Kaling once said this about romcoms, “I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”
We can safely apply this to the new Netflix-acquired film ‘Out Of My League’. This romantic comedy, which is directed by Alice Fillippi, premiered last year in October at the Rome Film Festival. It was released in Italy some days later, under the title ‘Sul più bello’ which vaguely means “at the apex of the most beautiful moment”. It is now being released worldwide via Netflix on 18th August.
Above all else, this Italian film is a practice in fantasy wish fulfillment. Marta (Ludovica Francesconi) is an eccentric young woman who suffers from cystic fibrosis which causes her lungs to create mucus, making it difficult for her to breathe. Marta doesn’t let this mortal threat get her down. With the help of her best friends and roommates Jacopo (Jozef Gjura) and Federica (Gaja Masciale), our heroine keeps her illness at bay while looking for a date to spice up her romantic life. She sets her eyes on the handsome and mysterious Arturo (Giuseppe Maggio), who hails from a filthy rich family and is a regular at the rowing club.
Now, we all know where this is headed. The coveted and good looking bachelor develops feelings for the oddball underdog. She heals his morbid heart with her kindhearted realness, and he provides her with the most comfortable lifestyle that one can imagine and they walk away into a field of daffodils. This is not a problem in itself, but the way the writers Roberto Proia, Michela Straniero and Eleanora Gaggiero (who wrote the book this is based on) go about making the two individuals get together is so unrealistic, so unconvincing and so saccharine sweet, it makes us give up on this film being anything but a fantasy. The story is too simplistic and the young man is so besotted with Marta for reasons we don’t really know. Perhaps he is intrigued by her cheerful sincerity that he lacks in his own family life, but we barely get to know much about his personal life. Arturo is, ultimately, reduced to a trophy boyfriend and eye candy who’s there to treat Marta like a princess and go the extra mile for her whenever he can.
‘Out of My League’ makes its audience watch the world with rose-tinted lenses while showing the unshakable good in every character. As a result, we never get a strong antagonist to root against, someone who could seriously threaten to break up the union of our lovers. We don’t even get to stop and question some of the problematic and creepy behaviours that our heroine displays early in the film. During their courting period, Marta stalks Arturo wherever he goes and steals his fork, pamphlets and cloth pieces. Arturo finds this out, obviously, but when he confronts the young woman about it, it ends up with him agreeing to go on a date with her. Why? Because Arturo believes in doing at least one charitable favour a year. Marta also admits to using a nerdy guy friend of hers at the club so she can get closer to Arturo. Then she steals the friend’s phone and flushes it down the toilet. We never get to see her deal with any of these consequences again. All of this is shown in a comedic manner when it’s really just uncomfortable for the viewers to watch.
‘Out Of My League’ clearly wears its influence on its sleeve: the French classic ‘Amélie’ (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) comes immediately to mind, the minute the film starts to play. From the whimsical cinematography to the overly saturated colours and the eccentricity, and stalker-tendency of the protagonist, it has all the ‘Amélie’ traits. Marta even resembles the great Audrey Tautou with her petite frame and the now iconic bob haircut, but there can only be one ‘Amélie’.
Numerous films – from comedies to romances to fantasies – have attempted to emulate the feel and success of the French romance film, only to look like knock-offs. However, ironically, ‘Out Of My League’s best feature happens to be it’s ‘Amélie’-like visuals and atmosphere.
Ultimately, the script lacks depth and so do some of the characterizations, although Martha’s two best friends essayed by Gaja Masciale and Jozef Gjura provide some humour and anchoring to this flighty film despite their being a bit wasted. ‘Out Of My League’ is best enjoyed when approached as a fantasy, with minimal questioning. It is not for the cynical hearted or people with any critical skills, to be honest. This one is not for the brain, and purely for the heart.
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